Quantcast

Mission dive bars Thieves Tavern, Blind Cat to close for good

By Alisa Scerrato - Published on May 21, 2020.

Sad news for Mission dive bar lovers: Blind Cat (3050 24th St.) and Thieves Tavern (496 14th St.) are closing permanently, owner Paul Bavaro confirms.

Both bars were around 15 years old: Thieves Tavern opened in December 2005 and Blind Cat in February 2006.

Bavaro closed the two bars in March as the city's shelter-in-place order came down. At that point, he said, he was already uncertain about whether they would re-open or not. 

“This is about to become a financial nightmare in the Bay Area for service industry workers," he told Hoodline at the time.

Before laying off his entire staff, Bavaro paid them all the money he had; his landlord at Thieves Tavern also forgave two months' rent without his even asking, to help him stay afloat.

But paying rent for Blind Cat, on top of vendors and other expenses during the lockdown, has been impossible without an income. 

“I just don’t see how I can battle the next 12 months of rolling closures and capacity restrictions,” he said.

Bavaro got his start in San Francisco in the '90s, as a bartender at two now-closed dive bars: North Beach's Crowbar and the Western Addition's Fulton Street (which is now Barrel Head Brewhouse).

In 2004, he opened Whiskey Thieves in the Tenderloin, followed by Thieves Tavern in 2005 and Blind Cat (then known as Dirty Thieves) in 2006. In 2012, he debuted Dear Mom, at 16th and Harrison streets.

Paul Bavaro (center) in the 1990s, where he got his start in bartending at San Francisco's now-closed Crowbar. | Photo: Genea Barnes

But the changing city has been hard on San Francisco's dive bars. Dear Mom closed in 2018, after an unsuccessful revamp as Darger Bar. Whiskey Thieves followed last year, after losing money for three straight years.

"That idea might be done in the city," Bavaro told Hoodline after Whiskey Thieves' closure. "A dive-y bar might not be what people want anymore."

Now, Thieves Tavern and Blind Cat have met their end. Bavaro says both bars will be fully vacated by June 1.

"The hardest part is saying goodbye to customers I've been serving for 15 years," he said.

And though he wishes he could have a goodbye party, "there's no better goodbye than the Irish exit — by just sneaking out the back door."

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Mission Bay

New Belgium Brewing opens first company flagship restaurant and taproom in Mission Bay

Sandwiched between Oracle Park and the Chase Center, New Belgium Brewing — one of the largest craft brewers in the country — officially opened its first company-owned and operated taproom and eatery, New Belgium, at 1000a 3rd Street in San Francisco on Friday.  Read More

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Castro Duboce Triangle

Team with Saison ties set to open Mexican restaurant Comodo in the Castro

Hoodline has learned that two people who are part of the restaurant group behind two-Michelin-starred Saison are set to open a new Mexican restaurant at 2223 Market St., formerly Nomica and before that neighborhood favorite 2223 Restaurant. Read More

Apr 09, 2021
San Francisco Civic Center Mid-Market Tenderloin

New Tenderloin program aims to elevate youth voices and promote young leaders

The Tenderloin will see a boost in after-school and community activities for teens and older transitional-aged youth through a new program funded in part by a federal grant. Read More

Apr 08, 2021
San Francisco Ingleside

New Jersey-based Korean American grocery chain H Mart set to open at the edge of Oceanview

At long last, after about an 18-month delay, popular Korean American grocer H Mart is opening its first San Francisco location in OceanView Village at a near-term date still to be announced. Read More