Sam Jordan’s, Bayview’s cherished gathering spot and the city’s oldest Black-owned bar that shut its doors seemingly for good in 2019 after 60 years in business, is getting a new owner.
On April 20, 2023, the building was bought by Juan Rosas, owner of Taqueria Vallarta on 24th Street and the popular Mission bar El Trebol at 22nd and Capp streets, according to property records.
It is unclear what awaits the historic bar: Neither the new owner of Sam Jordan’s nor managers at El Trebol responded to requests for comment. It is even unclear if the new owners will run it as a bar.
What is clear is that those who know its legacy expect the new owners to respect it.
“My hope is that the culture of the community is honored by any owner and that the contributions of Sam Jordan and his family to community are always celebrated in the service provided at the location. The community isn’t expecting anything less,” said District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, who was born in Bayview Hunters Point.
For the past three years, Sam Jordan’s Bar, at 4004 3rd St., has stood empty, with many in the area holding their breath to see what would take the historic tavern’s place.
“Congratulations to them,” said Ruth Jordan, on hearing news of the new owners. “I hope they can keep that same familial feel, that welcoming spirit. People told me over the years that there was a spirit in Sam’s, and they would always tell me: ‘No matter what you do, don’t ever lose that spirit.'”
“I remember a trucker came through from El Dorado County, and he stopped by and was telling me, ‘I’ve only been here a couple hours, enjoying myself.’ He said this place is a diamond in the rough. He said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t lose that spirit, that feel,’” Jordan said.
Ruth Jordan ran the bar with her brother, Allen Jordan, starting in 1995, when their father stepped out of the spotlight, until its final 2020 closure.
Sam Jordan was a San Francisco Golden Glove boxer and the city’s first Black mayoral candidate. In 1963, he ran on a platform of civil rights, workers’ rights and housing and healthcare access. Jordan was known to the neighborhood as “Singin’ Sam” and “The mayor of Butchertown.” He died in 2003.
When Jordan opened the bar in 1959, it was a space for the working-class Black community to gather and enjoy live music, specialty cocktails, and barbecue chicken and ribs. Its mirrored walls hold generations of memories; the bar was designated a historic landmark and, the same year, the alley running alongside the bar was renamed Sam Jordan’s Way.
Keeping their father’s legacy alive was part of why it was so difficult for Allen and Ruth Jordan to part with the watering hole. The bar’s owners revealed in 2016 that they had sunk into more than $500,000 in debt, and turned to a reality TV show, “Bar Rescue,” for help saving the establishment.
After the building went on the market in 2019, an outpouring of community support encouraged the family to unlist it and try once more to keep going. Unfortunately, even that did not keep the bar alive.
Ruth Jordan said the situation that brought about the closure continues to be heartbreaking and difficult to discuss, but hopes the future of the space is bright.