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Arts & Entertainment

Prominent SF bar that closed after a fire will reopen years later

Q Bar at 456 Castro St. has been vacant for more than three years. | Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

More than three years after a fire forced it to close, Q Bar, a club in the Castro District, has announced that it will reopen in the months to come.

Owner Cip Cipriano told The Standard on Wednesday that after a 2019 blaze in the residential units above, Q Bar has undergone a major renovation, with new restrooms and walls. 

“The finishing touches are getting done,” Cipriano said. “We can put a rough date on it. Q Bar will open in the spring.”

The Bay Area Reporter first announced the reopening.

The venue had sustained serious water damage as firefighters fought the early-morning blaze in the residential apartments upstairs, which grew to four alarms before it was finally extinguished.

At the time of its closure, Q Bar had been among the neighborhood’s most popular and well-known bars. Primarily serving a younger crowd with pop and dance music, it had the kind of atmosphere that people think of when they think of the Castro, seven nights a week. DJ and San Francisco drag legend Juanita MORE! hosted Wednesday night party called Booty Call there for many years.

Q Bar “was the first bar to welcome queer people of color into the Castro, the first bar to welcome trans people in the Castro and to have employees that fall under both of those categories,” Cipriano said. “For a lot of people, Q Bar was the place they called home—and soon, they can again.”

Its revival comes at a time when the Castro has been hit with numerous closures in spite of actively permitting new nightlife spaces. Harvey’s, a restaurant at a heavily trafficked intersection for more than a quarter century, abruptly shuttered in January. Losses of less historic businesses have mounted as well, including a taqueria and a juice bar, adding to the vacancy woes that have plagued the Castro’s commercial core for years.

Looming above it all is the fate of the Castro Theatre across the street. The recent landmarking of its interior may force Another Planet Entertainment, which manages the century-old movie palace, to reconsider plans to convert it into a diversified live-entertainment venue.

Thirteen people were displaced in the 2019 blaze, which affected Q Bar and Osaka Sushi next door, as well as a retail shop. Osaka Sushi has not reopened, although its closure is also considered temporary on Yelp and elsewhere. The fire’s cause has never been fully established.

Astrid Kane can be reached at