Reports have been trickling in that Shotwell’s, the Central Mission’s favorite neighborhood bar, has been a bit too … neighborly during the shelter-in-place order, which prohibits the consumption of alcohol on site at bars.
So we stopped by the bar this Friday to check it out. And, well, a small neighborhood happy hour did appear to be taking place, with around eight customers drinking beers and chatting it up. To be sure, there were far fewer people than on an ordinary Friday evening — a crowd more befitting of a weekday happy hour.
So we asked owner Tom Nadonna, who was there with his business partner, David Hall, what was happening.
He said he’s been doing alcohol to-go. “And because we’re a regulars local bar, people will come in and will linger for a few minutes and say hi, will get a beer to go …. “
“They’re not hanging out, necessarily,” he said.
What about the people standing by the pool table, holding beers, and others at the bar with partially consumed beers?
“Those are neighbors catching up,” he said.
And then he agreed: They were hanging out.
Like most businesses, Shotwell’s finds itself in a tough spot. Almost every business we’ve spoken to in the Mission is deeply suffering: watching revenue plummet, laying off employees, and not knowing whether government aid will come through. Everyone, save grocery stores, is going through it.
“It’s so devastating,” Nadonna said. “A lot of people are not gonna come back from this.”
Added co-owner Hall: “If we don’t do this, we’re fuckin’ done. Literally. We have two mortgages. We’re done.”
Other bars, however, have been making it work while abiding by the order. Many have set up tables at the doorway that prevent customers from coming inside. While neighbors may come up and chat with the bartenders, they take their drinks back home. When asked, Nadonna said he would consider something similar. At present, his “to-go” system has had customers walk through the front and out the back.
“All right, guys, you gotta go,” he said, after admitting he was “a little bit” worried that he might be violating the order, which says bars must be closed for gatherings.
“No more catching up,” he said.