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Haight Legacy Business Candidate: Club Deluxe

Update 8/12/22: Following the recent news about Club Deluxe’s planned closure, SF Heritage joins other concerned community members in expressing our solidarity and support for this historic live music venue. We have decided to withdraw this business from our legacy business voting contest, recognizing that Club Deluxe requires more immediate assistance beyond joining the Legacy Business program. SF Heritage has reached out to Club Deluxe’s owners, Supervisor Preston’s office, and the SF Office of Small Business, to offer assistance to Club Deluxe (including continuing to encourage their application for the Legacy Business Registry), and join the Haight and larger San Francisco community in helping this business remain in place. We will continue to run our Haight legacy business voting campaign alongside these efforts, and hope that by promoting another business to the Registry we can help mitigate further displacement in the neighborhood (businesses on the Registry can benefit from the recognition of their long-standing contribution to the city’s historical and cultural identity, as well as receive grants, contracts, and marketing assistance). We also hope that each of our remaining candidates will consider joining the Registry regardless of our contest’s voting results. Please VOTE HERE, and thank you for supporting our preservation efforts!

Club Deluxe is a live music venue located on the famous corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco. The bar, opened by Jay Johnson in 1989, quickly became known as a local secret spot for great live music and cocktails. Under his ownership, Club Deluxe became the nesting ground for the swing revival of the 1990s, with Johnson and patrons alike found at the club decked out in their best vintage clothing and enjoying a night out. Johnson passed away in 2015 at 61 years old after a long battle with cancer.

Johnson singing at Club Deluxe in 1994.
Bar patrons at the Club Deluxe, 1511 Haight Street, San Francisco, 1991. Photo by Dave Glass.
Bartender at the Club Deluxe, 1511 Haight Street, San Francisco, 1991. Photo by Dave Glass.

Today, owners Sarah Wilde and Chris Pankow are carrying on Johnson’s legacy, hosting live music seven days a week and serving up drinks like their Deluxe Collins, a version of the club’s longtime signature Spa Collins.

Exterior of Club Deluxe, at 1509-1511 Haight Street. SF Heritage photo.

On August 3, news broke that Wilde and Pankow are planning to close the music venue, after local musicians shared what appeared to be a letter from Wilde to musicians. In the letter, she wrote that the club “needs the “multi-billion-dollar real estate company that owns our building to allow a fraction of their portfolio to remain occupied by small businesses, artists, the unsigned musician, the carpenter, the waitress, and the single parent.” It was not immediately clear when the venue would close for good, but Wilde said in her note she hopes to move Club Deluxe to a new location, if possible. Supervisor Dean Preston, whose district includes the club, offered to nominate the business to receive legacy business status, which would help with marketing efforts, business support and grants.

Legacy BusinessesHaight-Ashbury

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