Quantcast

85-year-old Harrington's Bar & Grill shuts its doors for good in the FiDi

Photo: Facebook
By Jay Barmann - Published on October 02, 2020.

A classic Irish bar that has served up pints of Guinness to the downtown set in SF for much of the last century has decided to close up shop, seven months into the pandemic that shut down its business.

Harrington's Bar & Grill (245 Front Street — not to be confused with Harry Harrington's Pub in Civic Center) dates back to Depression-era San Francisco, when the San Francisco Stock and Bond Exchange still hadn't merged with LA's Oil Exchange to become the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. And for decades the bar's biggest neighbor, between it and the SF waterfront, was the former produce market that operated where Embarcadero Center sits now.

Opened in 1935 by Henry Harrington and his son Leo, the bar sought a diverse (male) clientele of "sea captains, steam ship executives, seafarers, laborers, produce workers, longshoremen, printers, and a broad cross-section of humanity," according to the business's website. And it formed a downtown link to the tightknit fabric of San Francisco's large Irish community, who established bars all over the city in the last century.

It was a fan gathering spot for the Financial District through all the ups and downs of the Giants and the 49ers franchises of the last six decades. The little stage in back hosted occasional live music. And food-wise, it was a burgers-and-fries type of place that well into the 21st century had a "Diet Plate" of fish and vegetables listed under the entrees. 

Right until this year the bar had stayed in the family, and was owned and operated by the third generation, Leo's son Michael Harrington.

As Harrington writes on the site of the closing, "The decision was very difficult to make but with everything we have to do regarding reopening in an unsafe environment for each of us. To wait out this pandemic was financially unreasonable." He adds, "We have had eighty-five wonderful years of a broad diverse mix of patrons we so appreciate."

It's easy to believe that longtime businesses like this one, where the owners presumably own the property as well, would be the ones to survive this pandemic shutdown and reemerge next year much like they always were. But here is an example of a third-generation business owner deciding to pack up and not wait this out any longer.

Likely the uncertainty around how populated downtown offices will even be by next spring or summer also contributed to the decision to close.

"Thank you for your support through the years. Kind regards and good health to you all," Harrington says.

33 minutes ago
San Francisco Castro

Custom fine jewelry workshop Nick Engel & Co. opens in Castro

A new custom fine jewelry workshop Nick Engel & Co., which has been downtown for about 12 years, has opened in the Castro at 4011 18th St., formerly Mini-Chic and Turkish Modern. Read More

About 19 hours ago
San Francisco Civic Center

SF Public Library Main Branch to Reopen May 3

The SFPL reopening will only involve the first floor and a “browse and bounce” program, but the access to computers will also be part of the limited library operations. Read More

About 23 hours ago
San Francisco Embarcadero

Anthony Strong's SuperStella Van, Red Bay Coffee and more new businesses arrive at the Ferry Building

A spate of high-profile closures at San Francisco's once-thriving Ferry Building is being followed by some more positive news, as four new businesses announce openings at the iconic shopping and dining complex. Read More

1 day ago
San Francisco Castro Duboce Triangle

Community provides feedback & criticism at Harvey Milk Plaza redesign town hall

Last week, the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza (FHMP) held two virtual town halls seeking community feedback about its plans to redesign Harvey Milk Plaza, and the new design team offered multiple new conceptual approaches. Read More