**Note** The candidates were chosen based on their eligibility for the Legacy Business Registry, which recognizes businesses operating 30 years or more. This is not an exhaustive list, and you may notice that some of your favorite Haight businesses are not included in our contest. While we reached out to many qualifying businesses, those listed in our voting contest were the ones who gave their express consent to be included. Others either declined to be included or did not return our request for comment.
Originally established in 1941 by Oscar Juner, a former Six Day track bicycle racer, American Cyclery is the oldest bicycle shop in San Francisco. It has a rich, well-established history of providing new and vintage bicycles and components to a large customer base throughout the city and beyond.
Juner operated the specialty store for fifty years, and many racers bought their first bikes there. He was one to pull stunts, and according to his 2002 obituary he made a clandestine attempt to cross the Golden Gate Bridge before it opened in 1937, only to be scuttled “when his tire caught in the slotted expansion joints, and both wheels broke.”
Records show that American Cyclery has occupied the same location on the corner of Stanyan and Frederick streets for at least 70 years, appearing in city directories at 510 Frederick Street starting in 1953. Proprietor Bradley Woehl, a longtime cyclist and lover of vintage bicycles, has owned the business for over 25 years, selling both production and custom bikes while running a prosperous service department.
In February 2020, Woehl had put American Cyclery on the market in order pursue other opportunities and spend more time with family, but the Covid pandemic threw a wrench into those plans, along with a mandatory building retrofit that forced temporary layoffs. Today, he is committed to keeping American Cyclery in operation and continues as its owner. Since the start of the pandemic, he has seen a steady rise in the popularity of cycling as a safe pandemic activity, and an influx of new customers into the shop.
John Murio, pro tennis player and winner of the 1933 Canadian Open, opened up this dark Haight Street oasis back in 1959. Prior to opening the bar, he operated “Murio’s Sport’s Shop” in the space for many years, and lived upstairs at 1807 Haight Street. Murio passed away in 1986 at the age of 84.
While the space received a refresh in 2011, the owners retained many of Murio’s original elements, like the bar top, the pool table, exterior neon sign, and recovered barstools. John Murio’s tennis trophies also remain as a nod to the original owners’ sports victories (hence the bar’s name), as does the vintage jukebox well-stocked with punk, metal, classic country & crooners, and misc. alternative songs.
In the early 1960s Mendels was run by Mendel and Sarah Herscowitz as a store that sold house paint and linoleum flooring on Haight Street near Masonic. According to the business’s website, rents by the middle of the decade were soaring and their landlord was going to increase the rent, so Mendel found a property just a block away that was for sale. In 1968, the business moved into its current location at 1556 Haight Street selling art supplies and house paint (the linoleum had been eliminated because it was heavy and with the hoards flocking the the Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love, Mendel’s customers had a hard time getting their vehicle close enough to the store to load up their flooring). 1556 Haight includes a mezzanine, which Sarah thought would be the perfect area to add sewing notions into the store’s inventory.
Mendel and Sarah had three children: Bette, Louise and Maury. Bette was the only one actively involved in the business and, in 1978, officially took the business over from her parents. Louise’s three children, Naomi, Emily and Darrell, would travel across the Golden Gate Bridge to spend the weekend with their grandparents from time to time and went to the store to “help out.” In 1991, after graduating from high school and spending a year abroad, Naomi started working at the store with her aunt Bette.
In October of 2013, Bette passed away. Since then, Naomi has been carrying on the family legacy as the current owner of Mendels.
Bound Together is a volunteer-run Anarchist Bookstore collective carrying printed material on queer culture, feminism, fiction, alternative culture, international and national politics, poetry, drugs, spirit, and of course Anarchism.
Founded in 1976 during the heyday of the collective and cooperative movement in San Francisco, its founders pooled their resources to start a shop providing books that could be used to remake and transform the urban landscape into a more human place. Each one chipped in $50 to rent a former drug store at Hayes and Ashbury Streets, and soon the store became a nexus for a radical, visionary community. After a few years, old and new members began to realize that there was a name, history, and practice for what they were trying to accomplish as a collective bookstore: Anarchism, and its emphasis on non-authoritarian collective action, a radical critique of economic, sexual and social relations, and the idea of remaking a new society in the ruins of the old.
In 1983, the store moved to its current location on Haight Street, and changed collective members changed the shop’s name to Bound Together: An Anarchist Collective Bookstore.
What is now known as The Gold Cane started its life in 1926 as A.G. Cassimus Restaurant, located at 1505 Haight (addresses have changed slightly over time, but this space now occupied by Club Deluxe). In the 1930s, A.G Cassimus converted his namesake restaurant into the Haight Grill, now operating at 1509 Haight. By the 1950s, his family expanded the Haight Grill’s footprint and added The Gold Cane Tavern (operating together at 1509 and 1511 Haight), and it was these businesses that played host to the thousands of new residents flocking to the neighborhood during the Summer of Love.
According to the bar, The Gold Cane eventually lost its lease at 1509 Haight, which prompted the family to close the restaurant and reopen as The Gold Cane Cocktail Lounge a few doors west at 1569 Haight Street in 1978. It remains here to this day.
A spacious location with several tables, an outdoor patio, and a place to play pool, 1569 Haight was previously home to businesses such as Florence Wine Company (1950s), Tracey’s Donuts in the 1960s (which had pinball machines installed), and Sanders and Others Mama Restaurant and Family Cooking Co. in the early-mid 1970s.
Today, the Gold Cane is a beloved dive at the center of the Haight’s commercial corridor, with regulars who have been coming to the bar for decades.
While the hotel under its current name has been operating since 1982, the building at 750 Stanyan Street has played host to hotels and inns for 118 years.
In 1904, owner Henry P. Heagerty replaced his saloon on the southeast corner of Stanyan and Waller Streets with a fashionable hotel meeting the elegance of the neighborhood’s new Queen Anne and Classical Revival residences. Originally called the Park View Hotel, the Martens & Coffey-designed building was one of the largest and most fashionable buildings in the neighborhood at the time.
Heagarty, an Irish immigrant, lived at the property with his wife Matilda, a Finnish immigrant. They employed people of different backgrounds at the hotel: servers from Finland, bartenders from Wisconsin, and Chinese-American men as waiters, cooks, and porters.
Over the years, the building continued as a hotel under a variety of owners and names: Hotel Golden Gate (1907-1919); Hotel Roamer (1925-1930); Stadium Hotel, in reference to Kezar Stadium across the street (1930-1975); The Fremont House (1960-1961); and finally, the Stanyan Park Hotel in 1982. According to the Stanyan Park Hotel’s website, the owners had originally planned a remodel, but instead decided to restore the building to its original splendor after a neighbor shared a historic photo of the original hotel (still on display in the lobby). Today, the building is the oldest extant hotel on the border of Golden Gate Park, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
California Surplus was opened by Jennifer Lutes in 1982, and is one of the foremost suppliers of military surplus materials in the city. Among its longtime customers are those stocking up for Burning Man, who stop by the shop by for bandanas, flashlights and headlamps, knives, big-rimmed hats, and scarves.
Longtime employee Manny Bello told SF Heritage that in addition to Burners, the shop’s workwear is now becoming popular with the many of the Haight’s younger denizens.
Trax Bar at 1437 Haight Street in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district is the longest-running queer bar in the neighborhood and the only remnant of the Haight’s history as a pre-Castro LGBTQ enclave. The space that houses Trax has been queer since the early 1970s when it was a gay bar called the Question Mark (the original Question Mark dates back to the 1950s).
Other long-gone LGBTQ institutions in the neighborhood were the lesbian bar Whoo Cares at 782 Haight, open in the 1950s; Romeo’s at 1605 Haight, a divey bar popular with lesbians; the Golden Cask restaurant and bar at 1725 Haight, opened in the early 1960s and owned by successful lesbian businesswoman Charlotte Coleman; the Park Bowl at 1855 Haight, a bowling alley popular with gay and lesbian leagues in the 1960s; and the famous I-Beam gay disco club, which opened at 1748 Haight in the late 1970s and stayed in operation through the 1990s. Club Deluxe was originally opened as a gay bar called DeLuxe Bar in 1978 before it was renamed as Club Deluxe in 1989.
With the exception of the buildings that housed the I-Beam and the briefly gay Haight Theater at 1702 Haight, all the LGBTQ-associated buildings in Haight-Ashbury are extant.