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Arts & Entertainment

The battle to bring live music back to this storied San Francisco bar

A Google Street View of Kilowatt on 16th Street in the Mission

Unlike petitions demanding Donald Trump be reinstated as president, or Ticketmaster broken up into baby ticket monopolies—one is now circulating that could actually improve San Francisco nightlife in a measurable way.

Kilowatt, the impressively durable dive on 16th Street in the Mission, is set to change hands after almost three smoky decades of ownership by one Peter Athanas. The incoming owners, a group of bartenders from Bottom of the Hill and Thee Parkside, want the bar to host live music—as those two venues famously do. Just as Kilowatt used to, back in the 1990s, before bands like Third Eye Blind started shooting music videos on Valencia Street.

“Kilowatt has been a staple of the San Francisco bar and music scene for nearly 30 years,” the petition reads. “This historic building was built in 1900 and served as the firehouse that saved the Mission in 1906.”

The call-to-arms, which approximately 1,800 people have signed as of Thursday afternoon, also notes that Kilowatt was a center of indie culture and a stop for touring bands, “as well as a stage for the first four Noise Pop festivals.”

The 16th Street corridor, still somewhat gentrification-resistant years after Valencia Street went condo, is about to see lots of changes. The current Bond Bar, formerly the LGBTQ+ Latin club Esta Noche, is soon to become a lesbian-centric venue called Mother Bar, while nearby Gestalt is up for sale.

The Standard has reached out to Kilowatt for further details.

Astrid Kane can be reached at