Polk Street mainstay and longtime rocker haunt the Hemlock Tavern will close following an 17-year anniversary party Sunday, Oct. 6, ownership announced Tuesday.
Managing partner Don Alan is selling the bar-venue and its liquor license to the developer that bought the property in 2015, Dolmen Property Group.
Although the Hemlock Tavern’s lease extends to 2022, Alan opted to sell the business after the rest of the building’s tenants accepted buyouts. Dolmen owns the block bounded by Hemlock, Polk and Sutter streets, and intends to demolish the extant structure and erect a 54-unit commercial-residential building with a rooftop terrace, according to planning documents.
Alan, who also owns Casanova Lounge in the Mission District, told KQED he was motivated to sell the Hemlock by a decline in business, which he attributes to shifting demographics in San Francisco. The “blue collar” mix of punks and service-industry workers who once packed the Hemlock on weeknights, like the bar employees, are now more concentrated in the East Bay, he said. Ticket sales have slowed as well.
“We booked up-and-coming bands,” he said. “Now people seem more interested in spending more money at bigger venues to see bands that are further along in their careers.”