San Francisco

SF Eats: Polk Street's Vertigo Bar changes hands, Russian Hill's Zarzuela to shutter after 24 years

In this edition, a Polk Gulch dive bar and dance club is calling it quits, and a Russian Hill tapas restaurant is closing to become something new.


Polk Gulch

Vertigo Bar (1160 Polk St.)

15 years after opening Vertigo Bar in Polk Gulch, owner Ken Meade has sold the drinkery to new owners, he told Hoodline. 

Meade says he's not sure about the eventual fate of the dive bar and dance club. "I can't speak for the new owners ... [but] from what I understand, they will be operating as Vertigo through the end of the year," he said. 

Vertigo's new proprietors also run the bars Iron Horse (25 Maiden Ln.) and Playland Bar (1351 Polk St.), according to public records. We've reached out to both businesses to find out more about their plans for Vertigo, but haven't heard back as of press time. 

Photo: Joel L./Yelp

As for Meade, "after many years — perhaps too many, perhaps just enough — I'll be switching course and focusing on a different type of service to the community," he told us. 

"For some years, I've done outreach and counseling for drug and alcohol dependency, and the challenges for the individual and the community," he said. He's planning on enrolling at the Jesuit School of Theology at Santa Clara University, "to further my scope and effectiveness." 

He also posted a lengthy message on the bar's Facebook page, reminiscing and thanking its customers. 

"Thank you to all of our devoted and generous customers over the years, from the beginning, middle and now the end," he wrote. "You trusted us, allowed us to indulge you in your shenanigans and debauchery, kept us working and loved us." 

"We will not be throwing a big, last night farewell send off kinda thing," the message continues. "Too much of everything is just enough."

"But, for one last time, you don't have to go home, but ya can't stay here!"

Russian Hill

Zarzuela (2000 Hyde St.)

Also changing hands is Zarzuela, which has been serving Spanish tapas and staples at its cable car-adjacent Hyde & Union storefront for 24 years. 

According to Tablehopper, owners Andy Debbane and Lucas Gasco plan to close the restaurant so that new ownership and a new project can take over. 

Photo: Google Maps

The new owners are Michael Pawlik, executive chef of nearby Frascati (1901 Hyde St.) and his girlfriend Amanda Banks Barker (Mamanoko). The duo are reportedly taking over the space for a new concept called Abrazo, with a Spanish-forward, Mediterranean menu. However, the new iteration won't be serving tapas, according to Pawlik. 

There's no official date set for when the transition will take place; however, the new owners hope to be open sometime in December.

In the meantime, Zarzuela will be doing business as usual until roughly November, so there's still time to drop by for a final meal. 

If you've seen something new in the neighborhood, text your tips and photos to (415) 200-3233, or email If we use your info in a story, we'll give you credit.

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