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Café du Nord Reverting Back to Former Identity: A Rock Venue

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The sign for the Café du Nord, taken in 2009.

It’s official: Café du Nord will return to its former glory days as a rock venue, jettisoning its more recent identity as a high-end restaurant and cocktail bar.

Local food and football blogger Daisy Barringer broke the news two weeks ago on Twitter, noting that “the entire staff was let go and replaced.”

“It will be a club for live [music]. They knocked out a wall already. They have to keep selling food bc of the way their liquor license works,” Barringer tweeted on April 12.

Café du Nord’s owner, Dylan MacNiven, has since confirmed the changes to websites such as Hoodline and Broke Ass Stuart. MacNiven said that the conversion would be occurring over the next few weeks.

“More details will be ready when the full picture is in place,” MacNiven told Hoodline.

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Before becoming a reservation-only dining establishment known for serving one of the best hamburgers in San Francisco, the Café du Nord was a popular mid-size music venue that hosted bands such as Thee Oh Sees, Sic Alps and Frightwig. In 2015, the building came into MacNiven’s possession, and a partnership with Ne Timeas Restaurant Group led to the club’s transformation into Du Nord, the restaurant.

After the announcement of Café du Nord conversion, there was uproar in the local music scene over the decision to stop booking loud rock bands there. The new owners promised that there would still be music, but it would be much quieter jazz and blues groups.

“If the goal was to go polar opposite and turn nearly everyone off who has lived in San Francisco longer than 2 years, well done Ne Timeas Restaurant Group!,” Annie Southworth, a local music promoter, commented on Facebook after the restaurant’s re-opening.

The building that houses the Café du Nord was originally built in 1907. MacNiven also owns the live venue above Café du Nord, the Swedish American Music Hall, which is booked by Noise Pop. It is unclear if Noise Pop will also book the basement rock venue once its renovations are complete.

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