If you ever had the privilege of stepping into Big, then you know it was one of San Francisco's greatest watering holes. I remember my first experience in the closet-sized space with billowing red velvet above and a garden of fruits and herbs at each end of the marble bar ready to make an appearance in your glass. The guys behind the bar had a gift for pouring pure gold.
Sadly the hotel that Big was attached to was bought and the bar was closed. However, Brian Felley and Mo Hodges — two of the biggest players behind Big — found a new venture in 398, a bar and restaurant, at the corner of Mason and Geary streets (full disclosure: I work there).
In the next couple of months, the duo will open a bar upstairs from 398 called Benjamin Cooper (named for both their mothers' maiden names). Think bubbles, oysters and cocktails.
The Future Bars group (Rickhouse, Bourbon & Branch, et al.) has completed the triangle of craft cocktails in North Beach with its latest addition, Devil's Acre. The name pays tribute to arguably the wildest place in the West, a restless acre in the old Barbary Coast where debauchery and danger ran rampant.
After an expired lease and a basic remodel that took more than a year, the Nite Cap on Hyde and O'Farrell streets is up and running again. No craftiness here. Just the essential beers and shots.
It's no secret that the Royal Tug Yacht Club closed in the summer due to rising costs, but what's moving in might come as a surprise.
After visiting a friend in Nob Hill recently, I walked by the old bar (it was in business less than a year) and noticed that the giant squid that hung above the bar and all the other maritime decorations were gone.
There was a construction crew finishing up its shift and so I asked one of the guys if he knew what was to come of the space. He said a doctor's office is on its way.
Speaking of closings, that Tenderloin bar across the street from Rye, the Trocadero Club, shut and reopened as Rx.
Dennis Leary, the restaurateur known for his inexpensive buildouts, covered the off-white walls with black paint and the drinks will be driven by Amaro and herbal liqueurs with an emphasis on remedial drinks.
You know, booze was not always the reason you missed that 8 a.m. appointment. It has long been used for medicinal purposes.
I recently found myself in what I now consider one of the Tenderloin's finest dives: High Tide. Here, most everyone drinks the house special Tokyo Tea under the signed dollar bills that decorate the roughed up space.
The plastic booths, cracked from years of wear, are definitely originals from when the bar opened 45 years ago. A portrait of a bare-chested lady with a feather boa hangs on the back bar. It is supposedly the original owner.
When I asked the bartender what came of the woman, she pointed toward the ground then toward the sky.