Here’s a great story from one of our local heroes, Paul!
A few weeks ago when my friend Kip Brennan was visiting from Los Angeles we decided to meet up with a San Francisco local hero. When Kip and I first laid eyes on the bar our local hero Kathy brought us to, we were skeptical at best. After all, San Francisco recently made the top 10 list of cities with the “highest bar density,” in the U.S. so it’s not like we were dealing with a lack of options and yet here we were, standing outside of The Saloon in North Beach; it looked divey, kitchy, and old.
In fact, once we ventured inside, I learned that The Saloon has been open since 1860, making it San Francisco’s oldest watering hole. The bar has survived two major earthquakes and several fires!
Don’t forget to stop at an ATM!
After my little history lesson, it didn’t take long to start to appreciate some of the quirkier charms of the bar like the handwritten “CASH ONLY” sign and the two-story bathroom, but it was the band that really won me over. It was 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon and set up on the stage was one of the best bands I’ve ever heard playing in a bar. It was three guys covering Johnny Cash and other classics and they were amazing. I was shocked to learn from David, Kathy’s husband, that these live performances are an every day occurrence.
Unfortunately, as San Francisco draws more and more visitors and newcomers seeking what’s trendy or a safe bet, serendipitous afternoons like these are becoming harder to come by. Many of San Francisco’s historic neighborhood bars have been forced to close due to rising rents and gentrification. As they disappear, they take with them pieces of our city’s history; The stories that live in the floorboards or in the memories of the regulars that have been coming in for a cheap beer and some good music every afternoon aren’t ones you’ll hear in any museum.
To me, this adventure demonstrates just how significant or local heroes really are; Kathy reminds all of us- tourist, transplant, or native alike, how rewarding it can be to stop out of our comfort zones. So go ahead, get in touch with Kathy and have your own local experience at The Saloon!
We can’t wait to go back!