The swan song of the 22-year-old Irish bar, The Phoenix, arrives on Super Bowl Sunday, and the owner has permits to demolish the single-story building and construct an 18-unit apartment building in its place. This means the city will have one less Irish pub in which to ring in St. Paddy's this year.
It's been almost a year since Hoodline reported on the demolition permit issued for The Phoenix Irish Pub building at 811 Valencia Street. And it's been five years since the rumors of the bar's impending demise began — around the time that owner Eugene Power abruptly fired seven employees in 2018, right before St. Patrick's Day. BrokeAss Stuart reported at the time that Power "has a history of erratic behavior, firing and rehiring staff at random," and that seemed to be the case then — the bar didn't close, and it was soon being run by new staff. That same year, Power filed his first permits for the residential building.
As Power tells Eater this week, despite being open on weekends the last couple of years, The Phoenix "never fully reopened." And now the time has come for construction to get underway on 18 “European-style” one-bedroom apartments, one of which will be a retirement pad for Power himself.
"I’m putting something back in that’s a value to me and the neighborhood," Power tells Eater, adding that he's been working in the hospitality industry for 40 years now. "I think it’s a perfect fit for the neighborhood, it is filling a need and it drives me on to the next chapter in my life."
The bar's last day will be Super Bowl Sunday, and Power says he'll be there to greet and say goodbye to regulars and neighbors.
The plan for the new residential building has shifted somewhat, it seems, since Mission Local reported on it becoming 19 "SRO-style" units with shared bathrooms.
The new plan also includes a retail space on the ground floor that is likely to become a new restaurant or bar, perhaps opening by mid-2024. But Power says he won't be involved in whatever the business turns out to be. There is also reportedly a parklet permit being filed for the new business.
The Phoenix opened in 2001, and has been a popular spot especially at St. Patrick's time and during football season in the two decades since. The building, which has likely been a bar/restaurant for all of its 63 years, was previously known as The Circle Club, The Greek Center, and Villa Madrid in the 80s and 90s. The original circle base of the neon sign for the Circle Club now has bares the Phoenix's name.
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