Eddie Rickenbacker’s is Being Forced Out By Landlord
I used to go to Eddie Rickenbacker’s during How Weird Street Faire’s in the past. I’d sit at the bar in a weird costume, order a shot and a beer and grin at the floating bikes while trading stories with other How Weirdos…enjoying every minute of the oddly historical and uniquely designed watering hole.
But after 37 years of service, the Eddie Rickenbacker name is riding off into the sunset, on a 1930’s motorcycle, with a chandelier under one arm, and a new lease under the other. They’re only driving a couple hundred feet though. Eddie Rickenbacker’s is hoping to relocate in the Salesforce Transit Center (which still sounds strange to say).
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To be fair, most of Eddie Rickenbacker’s hanging motorcycles drove off several years ago, (around 2012) the current owners Noelle Calixto & partners, took over the spot about 7 years ago and did well to preserve the remaining antiquities. We asked Calixto what they miss the most about the venue: Calixto stated, “Eddie’s has been home for many years. We have established goodwill and a well regarded reputation within the FiDi community. Ultimately, the staff being displaced will be missed, therefore it is with heavy heart that we have to say goodbye to this special place. ”
Rickenbacker’s original owner, Norman Jay Hobday aka ‘Henry Africa’, died in 2011, and his estate auctioned off a lot of the fancy things in the bar. It was rumored that the 6 Tiffany lamps from the old fern bar days were actioned off for around 2 million dollars, and many of the classic motorcycles drove off too, to find a price, or a showroom, or an auction block.
As is commonplace in SF these days, a decades-old small business is pushed out by a landlord (Ken Epstein in this case) who tripled their rent, and found a big money backed team to take their place. For this particular takeover, it’s the serial SOMA bar opening duo, Denis Leary & Eric Passetti. These guys have opened half a dozen cocktail bars in the SOMA/FiDi over the past decade, you know, spots like Natoma Cabana, & Techila Mockingbird ect. They tend to cater to tech bros, Patagonia vests, and ‘after office’ crowds who call the neighborhood ‘The East Cut’, without irony. Mixology for white collars and silicon valley subsidiaries who just ‘crushed it’ at a meeting and are looking to pay $16 for an ‘agave infused’ something or other.
The new joint on 133 Second St. is going to be called ‘Henry Africa’, an allusion to an old SF bar, and bar owner of a different era. Henry Africa will serve things, and open sometime. And the new Eddie Rickenbacker’s will be in the Salesforce Transit Center, with a target opening date of winter 2019, with a design by CCS Architecture, the team that did Barrel House in Sausalito, 25 Lusk and La Mar.
We asked Calixto what some of her favorite bars and restaurants in SF that people should support? She told us, “While I’m biased to my own places in SF- Campus & Chief Sullivan’s, I love and support our neighboring watering holes- North Star, Silvercloud’s, The Balboa Cafe, Brazen Head, Shanghai Kelly’s, Perry’s.”
We look forward to seeing those chandeliers in their new home, this winter, cheers