Good news for North Beach neighbors: after a year-long closure, 22-year-old tiki bar Bamboo Hut has reopened its doors for business at 479 Broadway.
Owner Max Young had to close the bar down in September 2018, because its floor collapsed due to a busted pipe. After that, he and his landlord had several discussions about what do to next.
"It was a long process, because it went from 'Hey, we’re going to fix the floor' to 'Hey, we’re going to replace the floor' to 'Okay, now if we do that, we have to replace the bar and get the proper permits for that,' etc.," Young said. "It was a process, but in a small miracle in San Francisco, we realized that if we come together, we both win."
If you've ever visited Bamboo Hut in the past, you'll notice the upgrades as soon as you walk in the door.
“It still is the Bamboo Hut. We didn’t want to lose what it was," Young said. "It still feels the same, but it’s a newer, cleaner, updated Bamboo Hut, and people's response [to the renovations] has been great."
The bar's origins date to 1997. Young first opened it as an offshoot of his bar Highball Lounge, knocking down a wall into the space next door in order to connect the two businesses for liquor license purposes.
But after Highball Lounge closed in 2000, Bamboo Hut took on a life of its own.
Young said he briefly thought about reconcepting the bar, but it always had a place in his heart, so he decided to just upgrade it.
"I figure, we’ve made it this far, let’s see if we can take it a little farther," he said, adding that it was a rare opportunity to maintain a longtime business in what's become a challenging climate for legacy businesses in San Francisco.
He also owned Mr. Smith's in Mid-Market (34 7th St.), but had to close down it a few weeks ago due to what he said were "rampant" drug sales on his doorstep. Prior to the closure, he wrote an email to Mayor London Breed and District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney to express his frustration, but when the issues weren't addressed, he shut down.
Bamboo Hut now employs Mr. Smith's former assistant manager, Daniel Paules, who is now the general manager of Bamboo Hut, as well as a bartender. Some of the former Bamboo Hut staff have also returned to the bar post-renovation.
Along with the interior, the cocktail menu has undergone some changes. While some popular drinks, such as the Flaming Volcano Bowl, remain, there are also some newcomers, such as the Trinidad Julep.
“We didn’t want to lose the fun and silliness and campiness and goofiness [of the drinks]," Young said. "We definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously."
Young said that feedback on the renovated Bamboo Hut has been great so far.
“We are just happy to be back and sharing this with people, and having them walk in and go, ‘Whoa, nice!’ when looking around," he said.
“In the end, we’re back, and that’s the most important part."
Bamboo Hut is now open Tuesdays – Fridays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.