Lucky 13 Lives On In New Documentary

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Image: Eric R via Yelp

We did not ever even get to enjoy our last drink at the legendary Market Street dive bar Lucky 13. When Lucky 13 closed for good rather suddenly last December, as was first reported by this website, it was right as the city was going back into ‘Purple’ tier heavy lockdown, and we were not able to join up together and pour one out at the bar we’d loved for 27 years.

But a new documentary pours a glorious one out for Lucky 13. Martin Reade’s 27-minute film Lucky 13 – Last Call for Alcohol, seen above in its entirety, features interviews with Lucky 13 bartenders and regulars (plus a certain very handsome Broke-Ass former mayoral candidate!) and relives all the pool, pinball, popcorn and punk rock jukebox tunes that made Lucky 13 “the neighborhood’s living room.”

Jim K via Yelp

The film covers the whole fascinating history of that Lucky 13 building, built right after the 1906 earthquake, which went on to become a string of hippie, disco, and western-themed gay bars like Mind Shaft, Alfie’s, and the High Chapparal. It even has mind-blowing historical footage of the election night victory party there from Harvey Milk’s historic 1977 Board of Supervisors win.

Daniel W via Yelp

But obviously a main focus of the story is the quest to turn the building into condos, which started in 2015. The bar with the black cat sign seemed to have nine lives, surviving possible closure many, many times, but eventually going the way of other dearly departed Church and Market legends like Sparky’s diner and Aardvark Books.

Bridget W via Yelp

While ultimately a bittersweet documentary, Lucky 13 – Last Call for Alcohol will reunite you with many familiar faces, and delight you with the sight of those old day-glo Misfits posters and 27 years worth of collected knick knacks strewn about the bar’s shelves. It makes you wish you could have done more to save the Lucky 13. But you can still support the Lucky 13 in Alameda, if not in person, through their Lucky 13 merchandise store and their bartender support fund.

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Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.

1 Comment

  1. June 9, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    It was almost one year ago when, after 3+ months of lockdown, SF did a soft re-open because infection numbers were down. I was hesitant, but the ONE AND ONLY place I felt comfortable venturing out to was Lucky 13 because they were only opening the courtyard.

    I had some drinks, I bought a t-shirt, I took photos (on my Flickr). Even if I had no idea the place would soon be gone, I’m glad I was there for at least one last drink (and to get one of their official pins from PSA Press) in that wonderfully grimy joint with its wonderfully colourful characters.