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Columbus Cafe Being Sold to its Employees

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From the Columbus Cafe FB page

Finally some good news in the world of local San Francisco businesses! Legendary North Beach dive bar Columbus Cafe is being sold to three of its long time employees.

While they’ve been going through the lengthy and tedious process of buying a bar in San Francisco for almost a year, Beka Woods-Kennedy, Will DeVault, and Ben Morrison signed the lease to Columbus Cafe on January 14th. They’ve worked there for 11 years, 12 years, and 5 years, respectively.

First opened in 1936 to serve the many longshoremen that were in San Francisco at the time, Columbus Cafe has always been a working class bar with a devoted clientele. It’s had a number of owners since that time and the current proprietors have had the bar for the past 15 years.

On a phone call last week Beka told me that, for the past 10 years, she’s been asking the owners to give her first shot at buying the place if they ever decided to sell it. And it appears they have.

“I love North Beach,” she continued, “I’d be heartbroken to see someone come in and make [Columbus Cafe] another cocktail bar.” Their plan is to bring the bar into the 21st century without making it douchey.

Photo by Nathan K. on Yelp

The partners are gonna give the main floor a slight facelift to clean it up a bit and they are plan to focus on sprucing up the downstairs and giving it a cool new vibe “It’s the most underutilized space in North Beach,” Beka explained, “it shouldn’t just be used for 25 year old birthday parties like it is now.”

Despite these slight changes, the crew is going to continue honoring Columbus Cafe’s roots as a working person’s bar, while even bringing back some of the old school amenities. To begin with they plan on reinstating the happy hour chips. Columbus Cafe used to have the best happy hour in town because they offered a free drink chip every time you bought a beverage during happy hour. This was discontinued a few years back. The new owners plan on honoring the old chips that are still out in circulation, while creating a new chip program that they’re still working out the details on.

They’ll also be starting an industry night with beer and shot specials, and plan on dropping the price of the pool table back to $1 a game. Pool tables at most other places in the area charge $2 a game and the gang wants to give folks yet another reason to come by multiple times a week. They also plan on updating the beer program.

Beka finished our call telling me, “We’re gonna keep the same vibe and feel and legacy of Columbus Cafe, and part of that is making sure we take care of broke people. It’s hard enough out here.”

Long live Columbus Cafe!

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.