Playland Owners Take Over Elbo Room Spot

The beloved Valencia Street bar has until Jan. 1 to say its goodbyes but it won’t be replaced by condos after all.

After years of will-they-or-won’t-they, the Elbo Room is readying for a permanent closure in the Mission but another bar — not condos — will open in its place.

The beloved bar and venue announced in October that its last day at 647 Valencia St. will be Jan. 1, giving patrons the chance for a proper farewell. Building owners Susan and Dennis Ring did not renew Elbo Room’s lease, and sold the building.

But the new set of owners includes Steve Schefsky of Playland on Polk Street and he intends to keep operating the bar as he makes renovations. A new name has not been decided but they hope to reopen on Jan. 15 with a temporary license as the permanent one processes. By early 2019, the paperwork should be official to keep it open as a bar — not multi-story condos, as suggested in past closure threats.

“We’re kind of excited about keeping this place going — that’s why we bought the building,” Schefsky tells SF Weekly. “We wanted to save a venue in the city. A lot of them are disappearing.”

Schefsky plans to give the old Elbo Room a rebirth with new lighting, upgraded sound system, brand-new bathroom stalls on both floors, new plumbing and electrical systems, and bar appliances. The venue upstairs may be closed for a time while changes are made but the new bar will still host live music and entertainment acts, up-and-coming artists included.

“We’re keeping the look and feel of the interior,” Schefsky says. “We hope to have people back.”

Although other reports suggested that Elbo Room closed this past weekend, co-owner Matt Shapiro says all scheduled events remain in place until Jan. 1 as their final New Year’s Eve party ends. A visit to the bar on Monday evening showed the doors were indeed still open.

Whatever comes next certainly won’t be able to replicate the same Elbo Room San Francisco has known and loved for years. But luckily, the owners opened doors to an Oakland location, where they will continue to hold shows like Makrú on Jan. 26.

“It’s sad,” Shapiro says. “This place means a lot not only to me and our staff, and [co-owner Erik Cantu], of course, but it also means a lot to, I think, to the people of San Francisco.”

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