The Elbo Room

As we first reported early last year, the owners of the building at 645 Valencia Street which is currently leased to the Elbo Room have been working on plans to raze the Mission district venue and construct a five-story condo development with a bit of retail on the ground floor in its place.

While many felt our report overstated the intent and seriousness of the plans, including Matt Shapiro, the operator of the Elbo Room who dismissively responded that the Elbo Room wasn’t closing “any time soon” and that the owners of the building weren’t serious about acting on the plans, the Elbo Room’s lease will terminate on November 1 and the owners are moving forward with their plans.

The news has reportedly left Mr. Shapiro “in shock” and scrambling to find a new venue for the club, but it’s news which shouldn’t have caught any plugged-in readers by surprise.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Jon J.

    Naive suckers

  2. Posted by Serge

    These days you don’t go through the planning process if you aren’t serious . The intent was pretty clear.

    And all of the people crying foul about Elbo Room being kicked out, they surely don’t understand that once a commercial lease ends (and there are no renewals or rights of first refusal), that’s it.

    • Posted by Futurist


      All the whiners who complain about “losing” the Elbo Room seem to forget the business itself is NOT tied to that particular building and location. If this really is such a beloved and great bar/hangout then surely the owners will find a new place to open it.

      • Posted by flowmotion

        Well, it is a really interesting space with the upstairs club, and it probably will not be easy to find an equivalent replacement. (But then again, I haven’t gone there in years.)

        • Posted by Serge

          They should have bought it, or signed a lease with options to renew.

      • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

        I made the same point in the last thread on the Elbo and someone countered that it isn’t easy for a club to relocate. They’re the bad boys neighbors bringing liquor and noise to your quiet corner. I get their point, a nightclub business isn’t as easy to move as an insurance agent office for example.

        • Posted by S

          move it to Noe Valley next door to Futurist 😉 lol

          • Posted by Futurist

            What are you? 12 years old?
            Good luck with your idea but we’re zoned only RH-2 where I live.

          • Posted by S

            lol get a sense of humor it was a joke

  3. Posted by Bobby Mucho

    Well… At least I know how many more months I’ll have to smash on Galaga, listen to rare 45s on random nights, sit in booths too small for 4 regular sized people, and soak up the last bit of Elbo Room’s whiskey.

    • Posted by anon

      yo Bobby Mucho you don’t know the cheat on Galaga? 1982 is calling.

      what nights are rare 45s nights?

      • Posted by Bobby Mucho

        1982 was a great year, yo. Idk know the schedule for thee 45s, but if you frequent said spot, I’m sure you’ve caught random humans playing records at the end of the bar.


  4. Posted by anon

    those guys should look into the Western Wear space down at 25th and Valencia

    • Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

      There are lots of dilapidated crap shacks 1-2 blocks east of Valencia. Hopefully they’ll find a suitable relocation in the same neighborhood.

  5. Posted by BTinSF

    When the Mission is nothing but condos for the bros to live in, the reason they wanted to live in the Mission will be gone. That’s the way gentrification works.

    • Posted by ProDev

      As more residents move into a district, this will create a better environment to open bars, restaurants, etc. More customers in close proximity is a good thing.

      • Posted by BTinSF

        In most cases I would agree. I am a “Manhattanization” fanboy. But you can’t duplicate the funkiness of the Mission in new construction. I would think we have Rincon Hill, South Beach and other areas to see what new bars, restaurants etc can be opened in a reasonably dense new neighborhood.

        I feel bad myself saying what I’m saying. I’m really fine with building on any open lot in the Mission and I’m even for the 16th/Mission behemoth. But I would like to see as many as possible of the funky little spots that made the Mission so attractive be preserved as long as possible.

        • Posted by Zig

          Too many people fighting over too few “funky” neighborhoods in the Bay

      • Posted by Zig

        Not sure this is so for many reasons

      • Posted by Dixon Hill

        If by “better environment”, you mean *homogeneous* then, yeah, I agree with you.

      • Posted by Futurist

        Yes, it will. I agree. for someone to harp that the Mission will someday be “nothing but condos” is just plain fear mongering.
        I welcome this new and small project and look forward to seeing many more along this corridor.

      • Posted by two beers

        Of course! Why didn’t I see it?: Closing down long-time entertainment establishments will spur the launching of even more entertainment establishments!

        Also, too, cutting taxes for the wealthy creates jobs!

        • Posted by moto mayhem

          the elbo room died years ago anyway. the housing is good for the neighborhood. I would personally be all for SF creating an entertainment district near where 550Barnevelt is. Nothing but warehouses, and having a lot of clubs/bars in one area is a good thing. Would be more like SOMA in the early 90s. Personally, im all for moving clubs out of the city core. 8-12 story condos across Western SOMA, instead of 1 floor warehouses would be awesome

    • Posted by Zig

      Gentrification is less contentious when there are many similar areas like Chicago

      These types of areas are just so scarce in the Bay and you can’t build them anymore

    • Posted by anon

      the Eastern Neighborhoods plan made all this stuff happen, really

      • Posted by two beers

        The ENP was kabuki bullsh*t. The point of the ENP was to subvert neighborhood activists who might slow down gentrification into supporting a loophole-laden gentrification manifesto.

        • Posted by Anon

          The ENP is in effect right now and its corridors upzoning policy is gentrifying. Your misuse of the verb to be, and odd harsh words and characterizations notwithstanding.

  6. Posted by johntrev

    I will miss the Sunday night dub shows.

  7. Posted by jsimms3

    It’s a sad day when loved and established businesses close. But really this should not have been a shocker. Mr Shapiro has limitless options – he can re-open the Elbo Room elsewhere, or open a new bar with a new theme elsewhere, or do nothing. Whether this building were to be razed at all, or not, he would have found himself needing to negotiate a new lease, likely at higher rent at today’s market rates.

    My guess is that Elbo Room closes, and Shapiro deflects blame onto owners of building because that is the easy thing to do. Even though for 1.5 years now we’ve all known this was going to happen (as it was reported in ALL local news publications/blogs and community meetings held).

    Finally, someone jog my memory. Aren’t the building’s owners actually former owners of the Elbo Room itself? Or don’t they have some sort of connection? I read they were just trying to build their nest egg (by building a small condo building that they could live in).

    • Posted by joih

      Former owners who I believe have lived here since the 60s, and maybe have been involved in something interesting in the 60s or 70s (I forget). They are old now, what can you do.

    • Posted by anon

      former owners were partners and friends with Mr Shapiro, for years. Dennis Ring, in particular, made the Elbo Room what it is. Like the Elbo Room? well, the guy developing it is the guy who made it what it is. In plain point of fact it would not be what it is without Ring. He booked differently. He had a concept, and it worked. To me it peaked in the mid 90s when nu-jazz was really happening, but that’s beside the point.

    • Posted by Absolut

      yes, according to an article I read, the building owners were the former owners of the Elbo Room and they sold their business to their employees that were running it at the time, who are the current owners of the business. I think less than 10 years ago.

    • Posted by Futurist

      Yes, well said.

  8. Posted by Marten

    This building should have been saved. Now let’s count the time the retirees actually stay in their new condo.

    • Posted by Futurist

      1. Why should it have been saved?
      2. You know for a fact that retirees will be living in the new condos?

      • Posted by Marten

        I like the feel of the current building. Not everything old needs to be rebuilt. The posting before the planning meetings said the owners wanted to retire into one of the new condos. Every time I read something like that I am suspicious that they are only saying that to curry favor.

  9. Posted by Sam

    I’ll look forward to them in Uptown / Temescal

  10. Posted by medalist

    Does the lot extend to that boarded up structure to the right, or do the owners own that as well? I always wondered how that sat boarded up and vacant for so long.

  11. Posted by anon

    I remember eating a sandwich at Artemis Cafe under the baleful eye of the waitress, then wandering past Amelia’s where a line of women stretched down the block waiting to get into its closing night party. Then Elbo Room opened up. Hey, that place was for me!

    Aging hipsters… get ready to line up for the closing night bash!

  12. Posted by Easwuud

    Sad to see it go for any reason. Any establishment with history and character cannot simply move and be resurrected. Works for chains however.

    That said building owners should be able to do whatever they want despite our memories and occasional watering hole being the financial equivalent of BMR.

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