New Castro Bar Pink Swallow Receives Planning Commission Approval

New Castro Bar Pink Swallow Receives Planning Commission ApprovalPhoto: Steven Bracco/Hoodline
Steven Bracco
Published on February 01, 2024

On Thursday, the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the new Castro bar and nightclub now called Pink Swallow at 500 Castro Street (at 18th), formerly home to restaurant and bar Harvey's

The Planning Commission approved a permit to establish nighttime entertainment on the first and second floors along with allowing for a space over 2,000 square feet within the Castro zoning district.

Hoodline broke the news of the forthcoming bar & nightclub last summer. Initially, the project was set to be called 'Brut' but its new owners quickly pivoted to a different name after realizing it infringed upon a previously existing LGBTQ business.


Pink Swallow will be opening at 500-504 Castro St. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

Pink Swallow co-owners include Beaux general manager and co-owner Joshua J. Cook, bar manager Alexis Lucero, and assistant manager Matthew Mello. They're joined by two financial investors: realtor Marco Carvajal and Beaux bartender Garrett Beighton.

"It’s a play on words with multiple meanings, that people of all communities, ages, and backgrounds can enjoy," said Cook. "Pink pays homage and respect to the Castro community, Queer community, pink triangle, and anyone that identifies with the LGBTQIA community."

"The swallow is a bird that has many positive symbolic meanings all over the world, such as love, rebirth, luck, loyalty, and overall positive energy," added Cook. "There is a tongue-in-cheek play with the word swallow, too, that's meant to be flirty."

The new bar and nightclub will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. serving lunch, dinner, brunch, and a late-night menu along with cocktails. The space will then become a nightclub in the evening hours.

"We are excited and hopeful that the community will enjoy swallowing all of our delicious food and handmade cocktails," said Cook.


Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

 

Ahead of the meeting, Cook says Pink Swallow received letters of support from State Senator Scott Wiener, the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District, and the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District.

As previously reported, Pink Swallow will be expanding the bar into the former Puff 'n Stuff space at 504 Castro St. which triggered the conditional use permit requirement.

Moving forward, Cook says the next step will be applying for and obtaining construction permits from the SF Department of Building Inspection and hiring a contractor. Public records indicate construction costs are estimated at $525,000.

Cook anticipates releasing the logo for Pink Swallow in the next couple of weeks and finishing up the interior design.

Initially, Cook said they planned to open Pink Swallow by "late summer or early fall" of 2024, however that date is now uncertain due to permitting and construction. "We are doing the work to continue moving forward," said Cook.

Proposed ground floor plan for Pink Swallow. | Image: Gi Paoletti Design Lab

 

According to Cook, the kitchen will also need to be brought up to code by building owner Paul Langley.

San Francisco-based architectural design company Gi Paoletti Design Lab has been brought on to remodel the space. Pink Swallow's capacity is expected to be over 200 patrons.

Cook attributes the fast pace of the approval process to conducting a lot of research ahead of time, hiring a well-respected design company, and using resources from the SF Office of Small Business.

Harvey's former L-shaped bar will be converted into a central square bar with room for a maximum of four bartenders. Additionally, the team will be knocking down walls, opening the floorplan, extending the ceilings, adding more bathrooms, and building a catwalk mezzanine in the 504 Castro Street space.


The Elephant Walk operated from 1974-1996. | Photo: Max Kirkeberg/SFSU

 

The restaurant and bar space was previously home to The Elephant Walk in the '70s and '80s. According to SF Gay History, the Elephant Walk was nearly destroyed by a fire in 1988. When Elephant Walk's lease expired in 1995, building owner Paul Langley declined to renew it and instead opened Harvey's in 1996.

Langley named the restaurant in honor of the late district supervisor and human rights leader Harvey Milk. Langley also owns SoMa LGBTQ+ leather bar Powerhouse.