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San Francisco

Zeitgeist to temporarily close in January for seismic retrofit

Beloved Mission bar Zeitgeist (199 Valencia St.) is set to undergo a temporary closure next month, for a city-mandated seismic retrofit. A note posted to the 43-year-old bar's door says it will be closed from January 6-18, 2020. 

The retrofit will only occur on the ground level of the building, and will not affect the SRO housing units upstairs. However, once the bar reopens, construction on the exterior of the building will continue for a few weeks.

Lara Burmeister, whose family owns Zeitgeist, said that the business hopes to attract as much revenue as possible in December, to help employees stay busy and financially prepare for the closure/time off next month. 

"We need to support our dedicated staff, who are directly impacted by the break in operation," she said. 

Photo: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline

Typically, winter is a slower time of year for Zeitgeist, which is best known for its sizable outdoor patio. So the bar plans to host some special events this month and in early January to get more people in the doors. 

For those looking for a place to go on Christmas Day, Zeitgeist will be open. It'll also host a New Year's Eve event, with DJs.

January 3-5, Zeitgeist's last weekend in business before the closure, will be a “Pre-Seismic Retrofit Rager,” with discounts on draft beers to help empty out its 64-tap cooler.

On Saturday, January 4, the bar will host a free party from noon to 9 p.m., featuring live music from Urban Sprawl, Mutilated Tongue and other bands. Events are also planned for the Friday and Sunday of that weekend, though details are still in the works.

Burmeister urges customers to keep an eye on the event page on Zeitgeist's website and the bar's Facebook page for more details.

Stained glass on the exterior will be moved inside. 

Regulars will notice some work being undertaken in preparation for the closure. The bar will temporarily take down some of its wall hangings, and remove the pinball machines for safekeeping. 

During the retrofit, Burmeister and her family will also work to extract and preserve some of the historical artifacts on the ground floor of the building, which has been a bar since 1906

The RBCC stained glass will be removed from the exterior and relocated into the interior, while the original wooden entry door of the first bar to occupy the building (which, over the years, was built into the wall on the Duboce side) will be extracted and repurposed.  

Burmeister said she's looking forward to seeing if any other artifacts show up as crews open up the facade walls for the retrofit. Anything she finds will be evaluated for restoration. 

Tile in the bar's interior from a former incarnation, Lally's.

Since the property at 199 Valencia has a deep and rich history, Burmeister said that she and her family feel a great responsibility to their staff and community.

“We are very fortunate that we are able to invest in this costly retrofit and keep the spirit of Zeitgeist going into its 43rd year of operation," she said. "We believe the retrofit will, in the long-term, preserve and protect the bar — as well as the SRO above — in any seismic event." 

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199 Valencia Street

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