Gold Country


was from a close friend who credits the bar with facilitating a truly epic date. She and her honey journeyed to SF from the East Bay for a show and hit up the Gold Dust afterwards for a nightcap. They sank into the congenial atmosphere, knocking back Irish coffees at the piano bar, befriending their neighbors, and throwing five-dollar bills into the tip jar as the house band played Allman Brothers and Credence Clearwater Revival covers. They lost track of so much time at the Gold Dust they missed the last BART home and wound up hitchhiking back (they were lucky enough to catch a ride with a sane, sober person).

Needless to say, the Gold Dust has a special ability to lure patrons in and hold them there until they could care less about life outside the bar. I felt that the first time I went there – and so many others feel it too that news of the bar’s likely upcoming closure has caused a raucous public outcry.

The Gold Dust has thrived for 47 years on a simple formula: No food. Cash only. Drinks are strong and cheap. Every hour is happy hour. At 8:30 p.m. every night, the lights dim and the music begins. The band doesn’t stop playing cover songs until 1:30 a.m., when the bar finally closes down. This concept, combined with the Gold Dust’s prime location along Powell Street, has made the historic watering hole a hub where locals and tourists collide. But unless the landlord decides to renegotiate the lease, or the city decides to protect the bar as a historic landmark like San Francisco’s Tonga Room , the place could be gone as early as March.

Below is a short collection of stories about the Gold Dust from some of the people who know the place best. If the gold-flocked walls could talk, the memories would go back to 1933, so there are more tales about the bar than I could ever fit here. Please share your Gold Dust stories in the comments section below.


The Gold Dust is scheduled to close at the beginning of March. In the meantime, it is collecting signatures online and on paper at the bar. You can also show your support for the Gold Dust Lounge by “liking” their Facebook page and following them on Twitter. You can even purchase a Gold Dust T-shirt. Keep up with the latest Gold Dust news on the website.

* The narratives for Jim Bovis and Chuck Davis are excerpted from archived interviews compiled by writer Catherine Hall in December 2011. Elaine Burke’s quote is excerpted from an interview conducted by Simon Thorpe and Michael Maloney conducted in January 2012. For the entire interview, please visit this link.



Published on February 17, 2012, 2012

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