Once upon a time, the space at 856 Bush Street was a bar called the Key Klub. It lived in that space from the 1940s or 50s until 1987, when it closed. The place was revived in 2014 as beer spot Hopwater Distribution, and now, the Key Klub returns in a new incarnation.
Hopwater Distribution closed, they said temporarily, in the fall of 2020. But the space has now been taken over by the folks behind North Beach wine and beer bar Bodega, which opened in 2016.
As Tablehopper tells us, like Bodega, Key Klub specializes in natural wines and craft beer on tap — the latter of which is being curated by Cellarmaker’s Sean Halpin. And there will be a food menu, still in the works, which will include cheese and charcuterie, a flat-iron steak au poivre, and more family-style dishes to come.
And they've installed a fancy sound system — with some Klipsch La Scala speakers — to create a party mood with top-notch sound.
Key Klub benefits from a fairly recent buildout — Hopwater's owners substantially renovated the space less than a decade ago and installed over two dozen wall-mounted beer taps behind the bar. The new team, partners Lalo Luevano and Paria Sedigh, haven't done much to alter the space because, as Tablehopper explains, this old brick building is set to be razed within four years as a development site. But until then, Key Klub it shall be.
It's unclear what, if anything, was done with the space in the nearly three decades after the original Key Klub closed, but the vintage neon sign remained on the front of the building. The new team has replaced some of the bulbs on the sign — which also proclaims the bar the "Crossroads of the World" — but they won't be investing in new neon.
Fascinatingly, the original Key Klub garnered a mention in the October 4, 1954 issue of Life Magazine because of a resident barroom rabbit who was once fed "carrots dipped in gin" by the bar's patrons. A Hollywood guy named Peter McCabe apparently took a shine to the rabbit and decided to move him to his farm in Eureka — where the rabbit, newly named Harvey, allegedly became a herder of sheep.
Thus, the new Key Klub features some rabbit-themed decor as well.
Key Klub is currently softly open, Tues-Sat 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., but the official, grand opening won't come until January.