Update: It Looks Like Tommy’s Joynt is NOT Permanently Closed
UPDATE: Looks like Tommy’s Joynt may not be shut down after all. Despite all the evidence presented below, I just got good news! Chris Henry, owner of Tommy’s Joynt, emailed me saying, “We’re not permanently closed! We’re temporarily shut down due to covid and mandatory closure from government.”
I reached out for more information. I will update this when I hear more.
This morning I got a heartbreaking message on Twitter from FootySF, alerting me that it appears that Tommy’s Joynt has permanently closed. Yelp has it listed as so, as does that side bar of information when you Google it. There’s also been some word of mouth confirmation on Twitter. I’ve reached out to Tommy’s via Facebook and have not yet received a response. When I called them, the phone was disconnected. Things do not bode well.
To add insult to injury, some douchebag wrote his weak-ass tag on Tommy’s famous sign:
Whoever did this over the Tommy’s Joynt sign is TOY ! Respect our Frisco institutions 😤 pic.twitter.com/mS01sJ4XtF
— OKDEN IN FRISCO (@TenderloinDad) September 1, 2020
This is so sad. Tommy’s Joynt is such an amazing part of San Francisco and has been serving up delicious, cheap food and beer to generations of San Franciscans. Tommy’s was also one of the last remaining restaurants in San Francisco where all their employees were Union. This absolutely terrible.
I went deep on how special a place Tommy’s Joynt was in my Weeknighter column for 7×7 back in 2013:
Sitting down to write this piece about Tommy’s Joynt I was gonna use all kinds of wistful and romantic imagery to describe the specialness of the place. This is partially because I’m a softy and often end up waxing nostalgic in this column, but more so because Tommy’s Joynt is a special place. Then I went to the Tommy’s Joynt website and realized that a) they don’t put up with that kind of wistful shit and b) the description of the Joynt on the home page is probably the best, most self aware “about me” a restaurant has ever done. Seriously, go read it now, I’ll wait…
That was amazing right? I want to block quote the whole thing because it’s perfect. Being that I can’t (or rather shouldn’t) block quote the whole thing I’ll just drop this one in:
These men, our founders, children of the Great Depression, knew how to squeeze every farthing out of a penny. They developed an eatery, a joint, where you could eat like you had all the money in the U.S. Mint, but lived like a Polk street pauper. Our lean buffalo meat covering rice is served for under nine dollars because we spend our money on beef, not table servers who exist to screw up your delicious meal. See a line out the door? Don’t rush off, in the time it takes to walk to another restaurant, get a table, and order from whatever teenager decided to show up at work that day, our long-term employees have served two dozen people.
I mean, are you fucking kidding me? I want to be best friends with not only whoever wrote this, but also whoever sits at the top of the food chain and okayed it. I imagine that person being like, “Well done Johnson! If they don’t like what we’re doing, they can eat a bag of dicks!”
I do live like a “Polk Street pauper” so the Joynt has always been a go to eatery and drinkery whenever I’m in the area. There have been many times where I’ve been doing a “Muni ride of fame” (no one should be shamed for getting laid) and hopped out at the corner of Van Ness and Geary because I knew that Tommy’s Joynt had exactly what I needed at the moment. A Bloody Mary and a hearty meal are a perfect way to set your hangover at ease before you finish the trudge home. Tommy’s Joynt is the ideal spot to eat and drink before you go to a show at one of the many surrounding venues like The Regency, AMC Van Ness, or the Mitchell Brothers O’Farrell Theatre. I’ve actually never been to Mitchell Brothers, but pairing Tommy’s Joynt with a strip club just seems right for some reason.
Maybe that’s because Tommy’s Joynt feels like a link to a bawdier San Francisco. At a time when it seems the entire city is losing it’s identity (ending public nudity, kicking out the Market Street chess players, evicting elderly people), the Joynt sits on the corner of Geary and Van Ness saying, “I’ve been doing my thing since 1947. Fuck you if you don’t like it.” And I do like it, immensely.
From all day drunks, to tourist families to hardcore metal kids on their way to a show, Tommy’s Joynt doesn’t bat an eye. They take you in, say “Trust me I’ve seen worse, now order your food already,” and then send you on your way. Tommy’s Joynt is a bar and it’s a restaurant. But more than that, it’s a big part of the soul of a city that’s trying to figure out if it still wants one.
It seems this year continues to find ways to get worse.