Tim Ryan carried a squat sandwich board onto the sidewalk on Wednesday, beads of sweat dripping from his face as he crouched down to fix the sign in place at the corner of Mission Street and Sycamore Lane. The board’s block lettering advertised a patio in back.
The record temperatures earlier this week had weary San Franciscans flocking to Mission bars with outdoor patios.
“Monday is one of the slower days,” said Ryan, co-owner of The Sycamore, a gastropub that’s been open for a month. Many new customers find his bar by searching online for outdoor patios in the Mission, he said. Business “went up exponentially this week.”
Once customers arrived, they wanted bottled beers chilled on ice. Demand for those types of drinks was so high that Ryan had to run out at 10 p.m. on Tuesday to get ice from any corner store he could find.
A few blocks away, Zeitgeist had its busiest day of the year on Tuesday, according to bartender Kristina Simons.
“It’s hard to prepare for a night like last [Tuesday], especially when you go from fog to scorching heat practically overnight,” said Simons, recalling that lines to order a drink at the bar were five people deep at 8 p.m.
In anticipation of Wednesday’s rush, most of Zeitgeist’s staff was called in — three bartenders in addition to a half-dozen security guards, line cooks and bar backs.
The Sycamore, run almost entirely by Ryan and his sister Liz, relied on more creative means to address the influx, concocting a custom batch of “sangria-sicles” — housemade white sangria frozen to the end of a spoon (cost: $4).
“It was crazy. We [advertised] them online,” Ryan said. “People even began pre-ordering them.”
After serving 400 patrons on Tuesday — nearly double the gastropub’s typical midweek traffic — Ryan says he is anticipating more crowds even as the heat winds down. He spent Wednesday stocking up on bottles of Miller High Life and Corona. And ice. Lots of ice.