Just an hour before lunch opened, a car collision sent one woman’s sedan careening into Bender’s parklet on South Van Ness Ave, Bender’s employees said.
The popular dive bar, which was supposed to open at 2 p.m., was empty at the time of the collision, and police officers on the scene confirmed that no one had been injured.
It was an uncharacteristically warm Saturday in San Francisco, and several people were trying to get a seat at Bender’s as the opening time approached. Despite bartenders preparing for the opening, they were still turning people away at around 2 p.m., saying they would probably open late today.
Mark Benedict, who was setting up tables and chairs at Bender’s second parklet on 19th Street, said he didn’t witness the incident, but heard what happened when he came to work. A woman allegedly ran a red light, and another car coming across the intersection hit her, sending her into the end of the large parklet at 19th Street and South Van Ness Avenue, Benedict had been told.
“It’s always been dangerous,” said Benedict of the parklet’s placement. “This intersection is pretty gnarly.”
Benedict said that customers usually preferred the parklet on 19th Street since it’s less trafficked by cars. South Van Ness, on the other hand, is “basically a freeway,” he said.
One of the owners of Bender’s, Dion Jolley, said he was just thankful that no one had been hurt.
“I just gotta clean all this now,” Jolley said, looking at the wooden planks strewn about, and plastic roofing sitting in the now-wobbly structure.
During the pandemic, Jolley said, the bar didn’t have the option to set up seats on the sidewalk because there wasn’t enough space for six-foot social distancing.
Police have not yet provided additional details about the incident.
This story is breaking and will be updated as more information becomes available.