The now vacant Pacific Heights Victorian building on the southeast corner of Divisadero and Sacramento, the bottom floor of which had operated as the iconic Lion Pub for the past five decades, has just sold for $3.5 $3.4 million having been listed for $4.5 million at the end of last year.

There’s no official word on what’s planned for the space, but it’s safe to assume to the two full-floor flats over the bar will be remodeled.

And as noted when listed, “a new owner could have the option to continue to operate this space as a bar or potentially convert it into a variety of other possibilities.” But the property sale didn’t include the shuttered pub’s liquor license.

UPDATE: While originally reported as a $3.5 million sale, the final contract price was actually $3.4 million.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Footie

    In the 90s, Margarita Wednesdays was the jam at the Lion’s Pub.

  2. Posted by BernalDweller

    Boy, I sure did a lot of husband shopping there in the late ’80s. Lots of memories.

  3. Posted by sfbrit

    Such memories! I (vaguely) recall a Long Island Ice Tea special night – served in pint glasses; had two at the end of a food-free day and redecorated the mens bathroom.

    The Pacific heights “A-Gays” with their cashmere sweaters folded just so over their back, martini in one hand, cigarette in other, offering come-hither glances to younger twinks, not all of whom were giving it away. Happy days…

    • Posted by wc1e

      Was a weekly stop when I was a bright boy of 19 in the late80s/early 90s. Never paid for drinks.

      • Posted by curmudgeon

        I was a bit older (27!), and alas had to pay for drinks. But yes, it was on the circuit when one did the A gay loop to lower pacific heights. God that’s ancient history.

  4. Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

    Never been to the pub, but it looks (and sounded) cool. Anybody know if there’s enough space to drop in a small brewery system?

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      Not worth the bother. Even the smallest brewery requires significant investment in time. And in today’s environment of multiple excellent keg-only craft breweries (Fieldwork, Cellermaker, Altamont, etc.) there’s plenty of excellent product to serve without the mess, hassle, and risk of making it yourself.

      • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

        @MoD, I’ll have to disagree. There’s a number of folks who feel its worth the bother still here in the city. They’re just looking for a great place to start a business. I’m thinking 7-10 BBL could be appropriate for this space.

        • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

          Well I guess its two people, two opinions then. This space seems more suited to serving customers than manufacturing.

          I’ve never visited a craft brewery with capacity above 5 barrels that was not in a space with high ceilings and concrete floors. This space has low ceilings and I’m guessing wooden floors. Not so great for the inevitable spills. I’d feel cramped operating my tiny half barrel system in this space, let alone something ten times larger.

          Also keep in mind you need storage for the finished product. Craft breweries will want to have at least four beers available at any given time and more likely twice that. So for a 7 barrel system you’ll need to store at least the equivalent 56 half barrel kegs. Either that or serve directly from the bright tanks which consume about the same space.

          All that space eats away from what’s available to your paying customers.

  5. Posted by HappyinSF

    So sad to see it go without the liquor license. I always thought of it as the only civilized gay bar in town. Things change. Sigh 🙁

  6. Posted by unlivable city

    The Alta Plaza for cocktails, then dinner on Fillmore someweher, and an after dinner aperitif at the Lion’s Pub and in bed by eleven for the channel 5 news with Dave McElhatton — et voila, a work night Wednesday evening on the town was had.

  7. Posted by Martin

    The high price for liquor licenses is why we can’t have $5 margaritas and have $15 mules instead. How long will it take to pay off $200K license with $3 beers?

  8. Posted by Amewsed

    Nice deal for the buyer. So much potential and value with the two upstairs units (the retail/bar space is almost a bonus!)

  9. Posted by JG

    Ah yes, fomd memories of this place. The trio of the Alta Plaza, JJ’s and the Lions Pub made for a great night out. And yes, the margaritas and Long Island specials proved too tempting too many times. All three were special places that I’m sad to see gone.

  10. Posted by Mike

    I remember Alta Plaza and Lion’s pub, but what/where was JJs?

    • Posted by Autodick

      It was THE LION PUB, not the Lion’s pub!!!

  11. Posted by sfbrit

    Mike: JJ’s – if I recall correctly – was a piano bar about a block down from the Alta Plastic.

  12. Posted by 7 by 7

    So what’s the current reasonable facsimile, where a gentleman might wear his cashmere sweater?

    • Posted by SoBayNative

      Martuni’s on Market Street?

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        Also *maybe* Blush (wine bar on Castro), or what’s-its-name, the place on the 2nd floor of a restaurant, just east of Midnight Sun… But no, neither compare to an actually busy bar full of Ralph Lauren wanna-be’s.

        • Posted by curmudgeon

          Eureka. Yes…good place to get a mixed drink. And you’re right…the thing about Alta Plaza, Lion, JJ’s triangle was that it was all about “wanna-be’s” impersonating (or hoping to land an) A-gay. As was cuttingly said at the time “oh, she’s just a ribbon clerk at Macy’s”

    • Posted by curmudgeon

      doesn’t really exist anymore. In dressed down SF, there isn’t that same desire for gays to dress up and go out and be swellegant. The very concept of “A-gays” seems so quaint. Although of course it’s not like class stopped existing – and with the explosion of wealth actual divisions are larger than ever.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        I think it’s not so much the explosion of wealth as the expansion of rights… people of that set now just go to Local Edition or Bourbon & Branch like every other hipster / neo-yuppies … or even the ambiguously gay Blackbird, on Market … either way, they don’t feel the need to go to a gay-specific bar.

        (I think another facet of mainstreaming has also taken a toll – there are a lot of people going to, say, HiTops who might have gone to Lion Pub two decades earlier.)

        • Posted by Anonandon

          Despite the “expansion of rights”, I have always been curious why San Francisco has seen so many gay oriented establishments like this one close while Los Angeles has seen so many more open? The same rights exist down in L.A., yet they seem to have a new bar or club opening up every week.

          • Posted by Sierrajeff

            Dunno – I can’t speak to L.A., I’m not familiar with its scene. I do know that the same bar closures have happened in Boston – so many good places are now closed. I hardly even know what “the kids” do these days…

        • Posted by Autodick

          Could maturing/aging have anything to do with it?

  13. Posted by Stop Driving

    Used to love going there for Greyhounds. A good first date always involved dinner at Solstice (now closed) followed by drinks at Lion Pub. The music was a little too loud the last couple time I went, but maybe I’m just getting old.

  14. Posted by SoBayNative

    More great memories here. What was wonderful is that they remodeled the space periodically to keep it fresh.

  15. Posted by sfbrit

    7×7: just my 2c and I don’t get out so much these days but I don’t think that place exists in the City right now. You’d probably have to go all the way to NYC’s TownHouse bar (still have a published dress code!) to see DNA of the Lion, so to speak…

    All kinds of factors at play and outside the scope of a Real Estate blog I’m afraid.

    • Posted by wc1e

      Very few places in the Bay Area where you can’t wear jeans, a hoodie, and flip-flops.

  16. Posted by Alai

    While I never knew it as a bar, I travel down Sacramento st often and this building is a definite highlight.

  17. Posted by 7 by 7

    SoBayNative, sfbrit and wc1e thanks gentlemen! Now back to looking at (for?) real estate…

  18. Posted by redseca2

    Leaving my 25th floor architecture job in the very early “90’s and meeting my boyfriend at Ginger Tois, having a drink and then walking to the Giraffe on Polk. Having a couple drinks and then walking to Fillmore for JJ’s or Alta Plaza, having a few drinks and walking to the Lion Pub; having a few drinks and cab’ing to our home in the Upper Haight.

  19. Posted by Wahrheit macht frei

    If it reopens as a place of entertainment it will be another faux-gastronomic “New American Eatery” looking for a Michelin star in their 2nd year while stretching the northern border of “NoPa”. People who buy $3.5M homes don’t want to live above a bar.

    • Posted by Rillion

      No need to stretch the northern border of NoPa, much easier to claim to be Pacific Heights as this is in “Lower Pacific Heights” already. I’m two blocks SE of Geary & Divis and recently saw a listing claiming the area as “where Lower Pacific Heights, NoPa, and Hayes Valley meet”). That has to be the most tortured way of not saying Western Addition I’ve ever seen.

      • Posted by SocketSite

        This property is actually in Pacific Heights proper as the “Lower” dividing line is at California (which then extends to Geary).

  20. Posted by MDG399

    Ahh yes – The Lions Pub. Memories. Where is an honest homo to go now to get some happy hour food and a manhattan without being run over by self-involved hipsters…? ….. Cry me a river…..

  21. Posted by formerly%whatever

    I wonder if the modern building to the south would be approved today with no setback from Divisadero.

  22. Posted by Michael Weaver

    It’s a part of LGBT’s past in San Francisco…part of our cultural history. How nice is it to hear a few people’s fond recollections? A lot of the generation that knew that establishment are no longer with us. Cheers to memories!

    • Posted by Rillion

      Yes, was interesting to hear about this place’s history. Moved to SF in 93 but never ventured this far north as I was down in the lower haight, so it was much easier to walk down to the Castro and stagger home from there.

  23. Posted by Jim

    Would the building to the south be approved today? Yes. This is a city. Buildings in a city (other than in R-1 districts) go to the sidewalk. This is a key element of the City’s master plan.

  24. Posted by gb

    no it wouldnt. it doesnt satisfy the 15% that is required in all rh districts, or averaging of the neighbors. oh and theres no such thing as an r-1 district, see name link.

  25. Posted by Eddy

    What a great purchase. Congrats to the smart buyer. Some really good deals on mixed use buildings if you look hard enough.

  26. Posted by Philip

    Jesus, pretty soon there won’t be any bars in the neighborhood except on Fillmore! Doesn’t anybody want a quiet local that is free of pickup artists, screaming drunk bachelorettes, people doing business deals, or tourists?

  27. Posted by Tom De Paul

    Went there before I turned 21! THE place to take a real date. I sat in front of the fire with “the one,” holding hands. Best tasting G&T’s in SF — not too strong. Miss “the one” too. . . .

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