SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — After nearly three decades of slinging drinks and presenting an eclectic mix of music, the Elbo Room in San Francisco’s Mission District is counting down its final days before closing.
The popular watering hole has been many things to many different patrons over the years.
“You have the people who say, ‘Oh, that’s where I like to see the metal shows,’ and you have the people who say, ‘Oh, that’s where I go dancing to soul music,'” said co-owner Matt Shapiro. “I love this place. It’s really sad to see it go.”
The bar with its upstairs room featuring a second smaller bar, stage and soundsystem has long been one of the more active live music and DJ nightspots in the neighborhood.
During the early 1990s, the Elbo Room was one of the key venues — along with the long defunct Up and Down Club — hosting “acid jazz” bands that mixed jazz, funk and hip-hop influences in a modern fusion. Acts like the Charlie Hunter Trio, Slide 5 and others held down weekly residencies that drew capacity crowds.
The upstairs room has hosted a wide range of sounds — everything from live metal and punk bands to global electronica, ’60s soul and dub reggae DJ nights.
Shapiro said his lease will end on December 31st, and a new owner has plans for a new venue.
On the bar’s website Elbo.com, a clock is counting down the final days and hours before the bar closes its doors for the last time.
“Another example of how the neighborhood is going bland,” said one long-time customer who did not want to give his name, but referred to a stretch of Valencia Street that has seen major changes with the gentrification of recent years.
The new landlord, Steven Schefsky, told KPIX 5 he recognizes the historic value of the Elbo Room.
“We are not planning to do condos or a high end cocktail bar that nobody can afford,” Schefsky said. “We want to keep it close to the type of bar it has always been.”
Schefsky indicated that includes plans to keep live entertainment and DJ’s.
Following the trends of gentrification, Shapiro and his co-owner have opened a new Elbo Room in Oakland earlier this year on Broadway in Jack London Square.
Meanwhile, the old San Francisco location is now asking its long-time customers to return over the next two weeks to raise one last toast.
“Come by and hang out, pay your respects,” said Shapiro. “And say goodbye.”
The San Francisco Elbo Room website has a full listing of events happening between now and the bar’s final night of operations on New Year’s Eve.