Iron & Gold, an eight-year-old bar near the intersection of Mission and Valencia streets, will have its last call come December when its lease expires, leaving a group of dedicated patrons without a regular hangout spot.
“Basically, we were unable to renegotiate the terms of the lease with the property owner,” said Kristi Kershner, the bar’s manager.
Kershner claimed that after the building sold in 2013, its new owner, John Wai, remodeled three upstairs units, but did not soundproof them. When new residents moved in, a flood of noise complaints followed. Per Iron & Gold personnel, the site’s property management company, United Property Management, subsequently opted not to renew the bar’s lease.
“Iron & Gold was a great time,” said owner Mathias Kornfeld.
Kornfeld, a native of Switzerland, is a more or less accidental owner of the neighborhood spot. He said he was having “visa issues” circa 2011, and he had to pursue one of two options: “Get married or open a business.” A friend of his, the owner of the previous bar at this location, Argus Lounge, offered to sell. Kornfeld thought, “Why not?”
“So I kind of walked into a bar business,” he said, adding that “it’s always a man’s dream to have a bar.”
Kornfeld said he is exploring his options for continuing Iron & Gold in another location.
For as long as patrons can remember, the space has been occupied by some manner of drinking establishment. Before Iron & Gold moved in, Argus Lounge was a favorite among Mission-Bernal residents since its opening in 1998. Patrons remember the bar being called “La Fuente Club” before becoming the Argus.
But Iron & Gold figures to be the last bar to occupy the space — at least for the foreseeable future. United Property Management signaled to Kornfeld an unwillingness to rent to another drinking establishment. The property owner in June received a permit to turn the space into a tattoo parlor, according to public records.
Representatives of the management company did not immediately return our queries.
On a recent Thursday evening, pictures of San Francisco’s past dotted the bar’s green-painted walls, while a diverse set of patrons both young and old drank in the city’s present. A gold-lamé curtain partitioned off a back antechamber that resembled a room out of Clue; it featured a lush indoor plant, armchairs, and a topographical map of San Francisco.
A group of regulars sat at the far end of the bar. They lamented Iron & Gold’s closing.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said a customer named Cliff, declining to give his full name, but quick to offer his nickname at the bar: “Chocolate Thunder.”
“You get off work and bitch and complain — or have a good time,” Cliff said when asked why liked the bar. “It’s kind of corny, but it’s like a Cheers.”
A man who gave his name as Ronald said that he liked the bar because it was a place for everyone. “It’s a mix,” he said. “A lot of tinder dates happen here. Some techies who like their cocktails.”
And, of course, you can still find some longtime regulars, even those of the Argus Lounge, like a woman who called herself Val. “This bar was never trying to be coolest new flavor in town,” she said. “It’s just a good place to hang out.”
She especially likes Iron & Gold because she can bring her dog, Lou, without any hassles. She said she has met a lot of friends at the bar, and has perhaps had a bit too much fun (the specifics of which she asked Mission Local not to include).
Now, “We’re all deciding where to go next,” Val said. She noted that she and other Iron & Gold loyalists have narrowed it down to Phone Booth at 25th and South Van Ness, or Pop’s at 24th and York. “I like both because they’re cool with dogs,” she said. “The Phone Booth reminds me of an ex of mine … but I’m leaning toward Pop’s. But, also, I’m thinking about drinking less.”