Lower Haight Bartender, Construction Worker Roman Benavidez Passes Away At 37

This weekend, Lower Haight bartender and construction worker Roman Benavidez passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was 37 years old.

The cause of his death has yet to be been determined.

Benavidez, formerly a bartender at Nickies Bar on the Lower Haight, lived in the neighborhood and also worked on local construction projects — most recently, the Rooky Ricardo's Records retrofit. 

Some of Benavidez's friends have created a GoFundMe to help his family with expenses. There will also be a memorial celebrating Benavidez's life at Nickies this Friday at 7pm, which will include a DJ, food and drink specials. Proceeds from specific drinks at the memorial will go towards the GoFundMe.

"Roman will be missed by so many," wrote one GoFundMe contributor. "One of the nicest, most welcoming and good-hearted people I've ever known. My deepest sympathies to all who have known him, and especially his family."

A photo taken two weeks ago captures Benavidez with his former co-workers at Nickies. From left: Roman Benavidez, Paulina Fulkerson, Sean O'Donovan, and Elaine Sands. | Photo: Courtesy of Sean O'Donovan

We reached out to Lower Haight resident and former manager of Nickies, Sean O'Donovan, who was close friends with Benavidez.

When O'Donovan and Benavidez first moved to San Francisco, they worked together at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. at Fisherman's Wharf.  For a time, they were roommates, living together on Treasure Island. O'Donovan also got him the job at Nickies, where they worked together for five years. 

O'Donovan told us that the community has come together in the wake of Benavidez's death, and that he was thankful for their support.

“A lot of people have been really helpful and great and pitching in for the party," said O'Donovan, who noted that some distributors are providing items for the memorial. The bar is also covering the food costs.

Roman Benavidez with his roommates. From left: Anthony Rudkin, Roman Benavidez, Omar Hafedh Mansouri, and Sergio Santiago. | Photo courtesy of Sean O'Donovan

Benavidez's family will be also coming up for the memorial from Southern California.

"I would love for more people to come meet his family, come hear the stories," said O'Donovan, who hoped that the family would be able to see the love Lower Haight residents had for his friend. "It’s been therapeutic for them."

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Lower haight bartender construction worker roman benavidez passes away at 37