Amnesia By potential past

Amnesia, a beloved Valencia Street bar and local music venue, is slated to close its doors indefinitely starting in early March. 

An employee confirmed this to Mission Local, calling it “public knowledge at this point,” as some bands have already publicly bemoaned the impending loss of the venue known for its jazz, bluegrass and comedy scenes, and its overall fostering of local bands. 

It was the employee’s understanding that the establishment would close its doors for a few months for a “revamp,” but may not use the entertainment license in the future. 

Windy Hill, a local bluegrass band, wrote in a Thursday Facebook post that it will be playing its last show at Amnesia on Monday after having its first show there 10 years ago. “ … it’s been a home for us ever since,” the band wrote, noting that “the beloved home of bluegrass in San Francisco is heading in a new direction come March 1.” 

Joseph Kempster Deakins, who identifies himself as Amnesia’s “former promotion” and “former booking manager” on Facebook, wrote in a post on Thursday he also learned about the news that the venue will be closing March 1. 

“Back in 2005 when I lived in San Francisco, my community hubs quickly became Revolution Cafe and Amnesia,” Deakins wrote. “My dearest Bay Area friendships were born there, so many wild nights happened there … ” 

Craig Wathen, one of Amnesia’s owners since 2015, would not confirm the closing, its date, or particulars with Mission Local — but he did not deny the March closure for an indefinite period of time or the notion music may not continue there. 

It’s unclear why the venue is closing. 

The bar has been on Valencia for the better part of two decades under various owners — with a name some may never forget.

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At Amnesia you’ll find a well-curated beer selection, a unique atmosphere — and, perhaps, whatever it is you’ve lost. Illustration by Molly Oleson.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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9 Comments

    1. It is so sad to hear Amnesia is closing. A little anecdote here: I was the first owner along with my ex-husband. I remember naming the bar one night at the restaurant I owned at the time, The Rooster. I was telling a regular customer that I finally found a name for the bar, “Sanctuary” , but then temporarily blanked out on the name. The name Amnesia was thus named. As a former musician, I wanted to make sure that Amnesia was going to be a home for local live music, and went through the gauntlet to obtain a cabaret license. It is very sad that we will have one less place to support local live music. Thankfully, we still have The Revolution Cafe in the Mission and let’s cross our fingers that it will stay open “forever”!! Vive la live music!

  1. Ugh.
    I still remember Chatterbox.

    Please – not another Wildhawk.
    That thing Plumpjack Group turned the Lex into.

    And what happened to SUB-Mission.
    The City with its crazy permitting coupled with a greedy landlord.
    Still boarded up five years after death.

    Hey Calle 24 – no help saving the last of the small time independent music venues?
    Txutxo Perez was born in Mexico City.

    What’s next?
    Revolution Cafe?

    1. But looking the whole history, the couple that bought this place were often not local music supporters.

      When they bought the place they eliminated PBR as a choice to hear the music cheaply.

      Buskers would set up to play in the widened sidewalk in front of Mission Park, the recent owners would complain about their music competing with the sound in Amnesia. They even called the cops on musician buskers.

      This is caused by owner greed, not city permits. They fooled the last owner that they were good music loving people

  2. How is this journalism? How can you omit that this space was once the Chatterbox and hosted origin shows for punk, new wave and unlikely drag shows that absolutely changed the world? How can the writer not mention the 2 books written about the space, that it changed ownership to the Chameleon and the owners brother owned the purple onion? How can the name Amnesia and the story behind it not find it’s way into this article? How do we deserve writing this poor? This article isn’t journalism. It’s junk

    1. Dear sir or madam — 

      This is what’s known as a “breaking news story.” Mission Local “broke” this news, as in, we were the first to report it and you could recite your litany of facts at us because you knew it was closing because of our article.

      All of the things you mentioned can come in later articles about this venue’s history and meaning.

      As for your condescending and abusive tone — bordering on parody — it’s neither necessary nor appreciated and says a hell of a lot more about you than it does about us.

      You’re welcome,

      JE

    2. From just cursory observation ML breaks quite a few news stories in this town.
      Stories referred to by SFgate, Hoodline, Curbed, SFist and the like.
      The ML staff are a credit to old school journalism.
      Working hard to uncover what’s really going on.
      While other news “outlets” experiment with algorithms to write automated stories.
      Or simply re-print stuff they get off the wire.

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