As we revealed earlier this year, a team was exploring the possibility of demolishing the Thirsty Bear Brewery building at 661 Howard Street and developing a bonus-sized residential tower rising over 250 feet in height on the skinny site with the idea of overhanging the two adjacent buildings at 657 and 667 Howard Street for even more density than would otherwise be allowed.

While the aforementioned team subsequently met with Planning to suss out their plans, an application to proceed has yet to materialize. Instead, the shuttered Thirsty Bear building is now on the market as a turn-key ready restaurant/brewery, including its fixtures, furnishings and fermenting tanks, which are capable of producing over 3,100 barrels of beer per year, while excluding any mention of the potential for a tower.

16 thoughts on “Shuttered Brewery Hits the Market, Tower Plans Shelved”
    1. While I don’t disagree – only a **** would, right?? – the conditions have to be right: I’m not sure whether “on the market” means it’s for sale or lease but – if the former, the price is likely to be too high – if the latter, it has to be more than a month-to-month (or even year-to-year) to attract people who realize the owners are just waiting to term the lease and start terror towerizing.

      1. The place is too large for a restaurant/bar. Besides conferences. I’ve hardly seen it full, especially upstairs which counts against the rent. It also depends on the liquor license. I can’t say for sure but Thirsty Bear struck me as a type 75 operator that brews beer to gain access to liquor sales. Type 75’s seem to get tired of the brewing stick and go stale (Social Kitchen, Pacific Brewing). Not that that matters, my guess is the risk and upfront and ongoing effort to roll a micro brewing operation in this space is prohibitive these days.

        1. In addition to the factors that you describe, the market has changed too. The most recent crop of craft breweries have raised the bar and serve a product significantly better than what Thirsty Bear poured. Thirsty Bear and their peers have mostly been stuck in the 1990s and haven’t invested in the equipment and techniques that modern craft brewers use. At those legacy places you’ll see more people drinking cocktails than beers, leaving the in-house brewery drifting into financial loss compared to the food and bar profit centers.

          The business model for most modern craft breweries is significantly more centered on beer. Most don’t even have a kitchen and instead invite food trucks or allow patrons to bring their own food. There’s a chance that such an operation could work in this former TB location, but they’d need to allocate more floor space to brewing and storage. Some outdoor seating would help too.

        2. Dunno, every time I walked by pre-Covid it was SRO with loud techies and millenials (hence my never stopping in…), irrespective of conferences at Moscone.

  1. Why not hold onto the property and lease it out for 5 years instead? Covered development play, with restaurant/bar for interim use.

  2. I went in there once for a bachelor party pre-meal and they had a bunch of side order items. I asked if they had appetizer sampler plates because I wanted a few of them for the table.


    I think I just had my one weird tasting beer, that was supposed to be “similar” to the common one I would have in these situations.

    The place struck me as entirely relying on Moscone and The Gold Club for it’s survival. Seemed over-priced and a little too full of itself for locals or anyone with taste, since there’s actual good restaurants nearby.

    1. Does anyone go to the Gold Club? It seems laughably tacky.

      Relying on Moscone was a pretty good business model for a long time, before Covid. Also, it was a popular after work destination, back before Covid.

  3. Full disclosure: I’ve been friends with the Brew Master here going back to the early 90’s. The brews were excellent; it’s simply Covid that did them in. They always had decent numbers, especially with conferences in town. The numbers still aren’t fully back and they just couldn’t pay the rent.

  4. Beware: There is more to the story than is popularly known. Court filings allege self-dealing, breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and breach of fiduciary duty.

    This case involves a partner in the brewery business operation supoosedly overcharged Thirsty Bear for rent. In this manner one partner would receive 100% of such unjust enrichment, while only being liable for 33.31% of the expense.

    Just perform an Internet search for “RONALD C. SILBERSTEIN, Plaintiff and Appellant, v. HAROLD BRANDEL et al., Defendants and Respondents; THIRSTY BEAR BREWING COMPANY, LLC, Cross-defendant and Appellant.”

  5. I remember back in the 2000’s all the ladies at happy hour at TB out on the sidewalk cat calling the firefighters at that fire station that used to be across the street. Good times.

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