Way back in May 2015, we reported that the long-vacant graffiti magnet that is the Harding Theatre was to be leased to Chicago-based arcade bar empresarios—and brothers—Danny and Doug Marks. The duo currently runs two Emporium locations in the Chicagoland area, and the third is coming to Divisadero with a slightly updated name: Emporium SF.
Today, things are moving along, and—according to Danny Marks—the multi-faceted grown-up arcade/bar/live event venue is slated for a spring 2017 opening.
"Our games span retro classics like Pacman to table games like pool, air hockey, foosball, and even cool modern indie games and new-tech entertainment," said Danny Marks. "We will also be restoring the original Harding Theater stage for a full live event venue. We will have music and other varieties of entertainment including a huge movie screen." There will also be a large balcony available for private parties.
Before the Marks brothers make their mark on the space, their landlord is busy making upgrades to the historic theater. "The landlord has taken great efforts to install new plumbing, Electrical, and HVAC systems. Additionally, [he] is taking great care to preserve and restore all architectural details of the space," reported Marks. (You can still see our photographs of the space, before renovations began, here.)
Marks says that he and his brother expect to receive the space shortly and begin transforming it into what will ultimately become Emporium SF.
So far, only major challenges he's run into have been the ones you'd might expect when restoring a massive old building, Marks said. "There are always bureaucratic delays to contend with as well, but so far we have had great support from city government and neighborhood groups. Construction, permitting etc. just goes slow—especially when the property is a community gem like the Harding Theater," said Marks.
There will also be two unrelated retail spaces available in the front of the building on Divisadero, but real estate broker Michael Klestoff, who's behind the project, says they are waiting for Emporium to finish their buildout before preparing those spaces. He did report they hope to get the facades together in the next few months.
You may have also noticed construction ramping up at the once vacant lot on Hayes just east of Divisadero. The seven units of condos, are also moving along, although Klestoff was unable to to share a specific completion date. Both the Harding restoration and the condos are being designed by local architect Mark Topetcher.
For Marks, the Emporium project has been in the works for some time, and he's happy to see the finish line in sight. "We're just looking forward to getting open and working with all of the awesome people that have been reaching out to us over the last year and half."
"We have been very warmly received and our business is strongly dependent on creating strong community partnerships," he continued. "Obviously San Francisco has an incredibly vital creative element, so we are really looking forward to getting to know everybody and building something awesome together!"
So, start doing your pinball training exercises. We'll keep you posted as more details emerge. And if you'd like to contact the Marks brothers directly, you can do so through the Emporium SF website.
Thanks to Tipster Alex K.
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