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Rum-Focused Bar 'Rum & Sugar' To Open In The Tenderloin In Mid-November

Rum & Sugar owners Natasha Avtonomova (left) and Olga Zhuravskaya. (Photos: Jessica Park/Hoodline)
By Jessica Park - Published on October 10, 2016.

Summer may not have lasted for quite as long as San Franciscans wanted this year, but a new rum-focused bar coming to the Tenderloin will have locals feeling like they're at a resort in no time.

Rum & Sugar is the brainchild of Olga Zhuravskaya and Natasha Avtonomova, Bay Area transplants who moved to San Francisco seven and five years ago, respectively. It'll be housed in the former Castle Club (823 Geary St.)

Running a bar is a new industry for the two women, who were friends for more than 10 years in Moscow. Zhuravskaya used to be a social worker and the owner of two different nonprofits, while Avtonomova is a translator who's had numerous books published throughout her career. But their passion for alcohol and meeting new people eventually led them to purchase the former dive bar and bring their idea to life.

Finding a location was the first item on their list, and they decided to go with San Francisco over New York and New Orleans. Zhuravskaya told us that New York felt too similar to Moscow, and she wanted to use New Orleans as a vacation spot for herself and her family. They settled on the Tenderloin, which they told us they believe has the potential to become the new Haight-Ashbury. 

The pair decided to get rid of the space's dive bar feel and go with a more sophisticated look. Their designer, Joanna Aveni, who has grown up in the business and is a bar owner herself, said they wanted the place to feel like a bar where people could go on dates, but also hold business meetings, community events, and other gatherings.

Silent black-and-white movies will be projected onto this wall.

The revamped space will have a bar located on the right side of the entrance, with tables and chairs along the left side of the room. Zhuravskaya says they'll have a television on the wall for people who enjoy sporting events, but the main attraction will be silent, black-and-white movies projected on the second-floor wall.

As for the menu, they'll be making cocktails with locally sourced ingredients. Avtonomova said one of the best parts about coming up with the menu was going around and meeting the local businesses that they were purchasing alcohol and mixers from.

There is still much more construction to be done, but they are looking to have their grand opening sometime in mid-November. Avtonomova and Zhuravskaya are also in a garage jazz band, and say they may have a live performance at the bar once it opens. 

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