Huck Pease, longtime bartender of The Saloon in North Beach, San Francisco's oldest bar, passed away on Friday, June 2nd of pancreatic cancer. He was 63 years old.
A native of New England, Pease moved to San Francisco in 1974, and began bartending at the Saloon in 1984. Well-known and loved in the neighborhood, he never failed to make a strong impression, on customers and coworkers alike.
Shane Sadoski, a fellow Saloon barkeep who began working with Pease nearly two decades ago, presided over a crowd at the bar on Friday afternoon as friends of Pease gathered to pay their respects.
Behind the bar, a makeshift shrine featured a photo of Pease taken at Yosemite just weeks before his death. Originally scheduled for August, the trip—one of Pease's final wishes—was moved up when his illness progressed more quickly than anticipated. Alongside the photo was a shot of the tequila that Pease so enjoyed.
"Huck's energy, that's what I'm going to remember. He was always bouncing to the music, constantly. He'd pour drinks to the music," Sadoski told us. "Huck loved to party, you know. His morning was 7 at night. He'd have a shot of Jose Cuervo right off the bat, sometimes even before hello!"
"He liked to put on the song 'Dreams' from the Allman Brothers to start the night." (Aptly, band leader Gregg Allman passed away just six days before Pease.)
Ethan Saint, who lives upstairs from The Saloon, has similar memories. "Huck just never seemed to get tired of it," he said. "It was like seeing a 22-year-old kid, fresh on the job."
A testament to the bartender's energy, Pease worked his last shift on May 6th, a Saturday night less than a month before his death.
Brian Stoner, a Saloon regular who has known Pease since 1998, marveled at the effect the bartender had on people. "I've seen tourists come back 10 years later to see him. I've literally seen kids whose parents came here 20 years ago come in looking for the cool bartender with the ponytail who served their folks."
"He was such a positive person, with just an amazing personality," Stoner told us. "He sort of came to embody the character of the place."
Hoodline was lucky enough to interview Pease in March of this year; you can read the piece here. When he spoke to us, Pease may have said it best: "Any monkey can pour a drink. It's dealing with the customer, and making sure the bar runs smooth, and people have a good time. That's the hard part."
You'll be missed, Huck.
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