This winter we shall see the opening of another new bar and jazz venue from Future Bars, the group behind Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse, Pagan Idol and other cocktail spots. And it's a revival of a legendary speakeasy turned legit nightclub from the 1930s and 40s, in the same spot where that venue resided.
It's called The Dawn Club, and it previously lived and will live again in the basement of the Monadnock Building at 685 Market Street, with an entrance on the alley known as Annie Street — an alley shared with the southwest side of the Palace Hotel, where the hotel's service entrance is. It opened sometime before Prohibition ended — let's say around 1930, since such records tend to be obscure — and it later became known as the epicenter of the The Great Revival in American jazz.
As this Stanford history site explains, The Great Revival was a moment when younger jazz musicians in both San Francisco and New Orleans, just prior to World War II, became interested in the music of two decades earlier. Standing in contrast to the Swing era and other popular music of their time, they began jamming and improvising in what music historians say is an understanding of older New Orleans jazz gleaned from old records.
Lu Watters led the Yerba Buena Jazz Band, which performed regularly at The Dawn Club in the late 1930s and early 1940s — and a 1941 tabloid-fodder incident in which Watters was shot in the hand by his girlfriend's father led to a boost in popularity of the club. And the club was also known for inviting Black jazzmen from New Orleans to perform, despite segregationist rules in place from the local SF musicians' union.
Ultimately, the club suffered financial trouble after the war, and it would be closed by early 1947.
The SF Business Times broke the news of The Dawn Club's return, under the helm of Future Bars partner Brian Sheehy, via applications that had been filed with the city for a new awning at 10 Annie Street. Sheehy tells the paper that they are planning to recreate the historic awning and signage of The Dawn Club on the alley — and they're going through the Historic Preservation Commission, which could slow the process of opening. As of August, Sheehy was saying they hoped to have the place open by the end of the year.
The 4,000-square-foot nightclub will play host to jazz music once again — some of which, presumably, will be in that New Orleans via San Francisco style of the Yerba Buena Jazz Band. And longtime Future Bars bartender Jayson Wilde will oversee the bar program at The Dawn Club.
This will bring a second Future Bars-owned, subterranean bar and music venue to the block, with the decade-old Local Edition still residing below the Hearst Building next door.
As the SF Business Times reports, Future Bars will also be bringing its other two businesses on the Third Street side of the Hearst Building, The Lark Bar (formerly the dive Dave's) and high-end spirits shop Cask, around the corner to the Monadnock as well, and they will soon have storefronts on Market Street.
Sheehy tells the Business Times that he hopes the revived Dawn Club will fit right in to the hotel- and convention-filled neighborhood, and will be a go-to recommendation for concierges nearby.
We'll update you as we get closer to The Dawn Club's reopening.