After three years shuttered, its historic marquee losing letters and its facade covered in graffiti, Bruno’s nightclub on Mission Street plans to reopen in the next couple of months. Major renovations are taking place inside the venue, but its owner does not have a specific opening date yet.
“Bruno’s is sort of a landmark and a real anchor tenant for the Mission,” said George Karas, the club’s owner, adding that permit delays mean the exact date is uncertain but that he would “love to have it reopened” soon.
For the past month, neighbors have noticed new activity in and around Bruno’s, at 2389 Mission St. The large letters on its concertina-pattern marquee have been painted anew — now yellow and black, instead of orange. “They opened the gate, and there were some renovations inside, too,” said Ramon Gonzalez, the owner of Angie’s Jewelry, who can see Bruno’s front door from his shop on the west side of Mission Street.
Karas confirmed that the work taking place involved big changes, but said that, once the club is open again, the atmosphere will be the same — food and drinks, parties and events, nightlife and fun.
When it was still open, Bruno’s featured a large event space with two levels and four rooms to accommodate small parties or events with hundreds. It had been a Mission destination for live music, DJs and late-night clubbing.
Karas said he would have wanted to reopen sooner, but permit challenges from the city have made things difficult.
Bruno’s first closed at the beginning of Covid-19, when nightlife around the city shuttered and businesses struggled to stay afloat. But Karas didn’t expect it to remain closed for three years.
“It’s good for the Mission District to have a place like that,” he said. “It’s an iconic place.”
Six months ago, Karas started his plan to reopen. When he tried to pull the permits to begin renovation, he said, the city pushed back. “That’s not the code, that’s not the code,” Karas said of the city’s responses. “And it’s really frustrating.”
Karas did not provide further details on what the city asked them to do, but renewing his building permit was key to getting underway.
So far, Karas said he has spent $20,000 on painting the letters and installing the lights above them. The club will also feature new mounted signs, and the storefront below the marquee will be retiled. It will all cost a lot of money, Karas said, but it will not be the end of the expenses: Graffiti is a perpetual problem for Bruno’s, and Karas has to spend time and money to clean it up repeatedly.
“We get letters all the time from DPW to clean it up,” said Karas, referring to the Department of Public Works’ policy on graffiti, which warns property owners to abate graffiti, and fines them if they do not do so. “Clean it up, or you’re going to get fines.”
“Can you imagine, every single day, having to do that?” Kara said. “It gets frustrating, and it gets expensive.”
Neighbors of the club, for their part, were excited for its reopening.
“That’s lovely to have them back!” said Steve23 Sanchez, owner of New Mission Yoga at the next block to Bruno’s.
Added Ryen Motzek, the president of the Mission Merchants Association: “I’m excited, because an old Mission gem is coming alive.”