San Francisco

After 28 Years, SoMa's 'Brainwash Café' Spins Down

After three decades of operating as a café, performance space and laundromat, Brainwash Café (1122 Folsom St. at Langton St.) has closed its doors.

The news was announced this morning in a farewell note taped to the front door that reads:

So sorry San Francisco
Brainwash is officially closed
Thank you for all the laughs & memories
Note taped to door of Brainwash Café this morning. | Photo/imgur

Goosefur, an Instagram user who claims to be a longtime employee, said they learned of the closure only after arriving at Brainwash this morning for a scheduled meeting. Although the coffee shop and laundromat are closed, its streaming interior cameras were still operational at the time of this writing.

Hoodline interviewed owner Jeff Zalles in December 2016 about the café's financial woes. At the time, he said revenue had fallen by 20 percent due to construction work on a 111-unit residential building going up next door.

No word yet on what will take over the space.

Susan Schindler first opened Brainwash Cafe in 1989. At first, she intended to start a nightclub, but after learning that there were few laundromats in SoMa, she decided to change her plans. 

Eighteen years ago, comedian Tony Sparks partnered with the café to organize live comedy, making it the city's longest-running open mic event.

Many comedians who practiced their set at with Spark at Brainwash went on to pursue successful comedy careers. The café's calendar is still booked until the end of the year, but it's unclear whether the open mics will continue.


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