The new owners of Café du Nord announced Monday that the popular Upper Market concert venue, which closed in January 2014, will reopen on June 17 as a cocktail bar, restaurant and, yes, a place to hear music.
But the former underground rock club (literally underground -- you walk down several steps to enter it) where locals could catch groups like Thee Oh Sees, Sic Alps and Frightwig before it shuttered, won't be hosting loud punk bands.
According to a press release published Monday, the kind of groups that patrons might catch in the cafe's 30-table, newly-christened "Viking Room" will be local artists that are a "complement to guests’ drinking and dining experiences." In other words, the repertoire will focus on jazz, blues and cocktail piano.
For those following the sale and redevelopment of the cafe, this is not news.
The new owners, restaurateurs the Bon Vivants and Ne Timeas Restaurant Group, have been clear about their intentions to make Café du Nord more about the food since September of last year.
The reopening and re-branding of Café du Nord comes at a time when other loud rock venues such as the Elbo Room have announced that they are closing up shop. Meanwhile, the Swedish American Hall, which sits above the cafe, only offers acoustic shows.
The local music community has expressed mixed feelings about the new du Nord on social media. Some, such as Ryan Coseboom of Bay Area electronic groups Halou and Stripmall Architecture, are excited to see a new cocktail bar by the restauranteurs behind Flour + Water.
"I played there probably ten times. Great venue and great people worked there, " said Coseboom. "However, things change and I certainly never presumed to have any sort of say in what they chose to do with the property or what kind of business they should do."
Others, such as East Bay Express' music editor Sam Lefebvre (who has also played drums for local bands Cold Beat and Warm Soda), had a decidedly more critical take.
"File under: More reasons not to believe restauranteurs who buy historic venues and say things like, 'My ultimate goal would be to have a better live music experience than exists now,'" said Lefebvre, referring to a quote from du Nord owner Dylan MacNiven in a Dec. 2013 article in the SF Weekly's music blog All Shook Down.
The cafe will be a boon for those looking to catch a late night bite as the kitchen will be open nightly until 1:30am, with drinks being served until 2am.