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Whiskey Thieves Announces It’s Closing

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Paul Bavaro thinks San Francisco’s dive bar scene may not be long for this world. When he opened Whiskey Thieves at 839 Geary St. 15 years ago, it was the “first true whiskey bar” that at one point served up 275 varieties and although good whiskey does not come cheap, Bavaro did his best to adjust prices to what neighborhood patrons could afford. Unfortunately, that model proved unsustainable and after three years of losing money, he will close up shop for good on Jan. 31.

Bavaro will focus his energy on two other bars he owns in the Mission: Thieves Tavern and Blind Cat, which are both relatively “healthy” but have also seen a 25 percent dip in profit, as Hoodline reports. He hopes to find another, more ideal location for Whiskey Thieves someday but is done with the fight to keep customers coming back in an area that no longer demands what he is serving. And it should go without saying that the high rent did not align with the declining customer base.

Whiskey Thieves in San Francisco, Calif. announces closure. Photo courtesy of SF Gate

“I got tired of chasing the whiskey gang,” Bavaro said. “People in the neighborhood just weren’t going there anymore.”

The challenge of offering quality booze at discount prices in a homey dive-like setting just became too much for Bavaro to sustain and he believes closures of bars like Whiskey Thieves signals the beginning of the end for the city’s dive bar era.

“That idea might be done in the city,” Bavaro said. “A dive-y bar might not be what people want anymore.” He acknowledges that owning a business in San Francisco is not for the weak of heart, but that the people of the city made the bar the little slice of whiskey-slinging dive-y love that it was.

Whiskey Thieves in San Francisco, Calif. will close Jan. 31, 2019 after 15 years. Photo courtesy of San Francisco Bar Experiment

As Bavaro told Hoodline:

“Even though people would come for the whiskey, I always thought of it as a neighborhood bar.”

Hurry in to Whiskey Thieves to catch a shot and smile while the gettin’s still good. Slàinte!


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.