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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Does the Showdown, a New Bar at Sixth and Market, Have a Shot at Success?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 1:42 PM


The Showdown is just a few doors down from Market Street, and has seemingly changed hands more times than a perfidious poker player. It was the Arrow Bar for a long time, then it was the Matador. The new ownership has chosen a name that belies some sort of ultimatum: "I'll see you at high noon, O Very Difficult Bar Demographic to Reach."

It's not that surprising that many bars have tried to make it here; it is both a great location and a horrible location. It's great in that it is close to BART, and there is a serious lack of good bars in SOMA, so any new ones are welcome. However, few of the boozy hipsters the bar seems to want to draw in actually live in the vicinity.

I walked over the threshold, singing to myself more "Showdown" lyrics, "The night! The lo-ong-est nighhhht ..."

The bar is lovely; I must say that this round of owners has done the best job making the place look inviting and warm. Vintage bird wallpaper flanks a few of the walls, and large mirrors hang over the bartender to make the room appear bigger. It's a shotgun-style bar, like most watering holes -- long and deep, with tables in the back and an expansive bar down the right wall. Somewhat mismatched thrift-store pendants hang over the bar, all '60s-'70s and in the same shade of butterscotch glass.

My ELO autoplay was interrupted by the Roxy Music that was playing, so I happily invited the new music in and offered it a virtual chair. The bartender gave me a friendly hello. He was busy setting up for the night and was wearing an Old West hipster ensemble, complete with skinny jeans, tight waistcoat, and tie. I grilled him about the place -- ownership, DJs, trivia night, etc. -- and he was a good sport. This was especially nice, since the two guys who came in after me asked him all the same questions over again.

There were three other people in the bar, sitting on my right. They were discussing Justice Antonin Scalia and the news that had come out that day that he had said, according to the Constitution, that women are not a protected class. This news tickled me, because I have been reading a gigantic biography of Martin Luther King Jr., and I am now even more convinced of how mutable our rights are. A lot of the freedoms we have depend on certain people in power being in the right place at the right time (or, conversely, the wrong people being in the right place at the right time)...

... continue reading this week's Bouncer column.


Follow Bouncer on Twitter @BouncerSF, and follow this blog @SFAllShookDown.

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Katy St. Clair


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