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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Ownership, Renovations Coming to Cafe Du Nord -- Future of Live Music Unclear [UPDATED]

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 3:27 PM


Update, 5:31 p.m.: MacNiven writes in a follow-up email: "I am intending for live music to stay [at Cafe Du Nord]... Once the hall re-opens, my ultimate goal would be to have a better live music experience than exists now."

Original post: Rumors have been circulating for months about the possible sale and/or closure of Cafe Du Nord and the Swedish American Hall, two beloved live music spaces that share an old, beautiful building with bar and restaurant at 2170 Market. The club is in the process of being sold. While the full picture of what's happening to it isn't clear yet, here's what we know based on email conversations with Dylan MacNiven, the man behind restaurants Woodhouse Fish Co. and West of Pecos, who is managing the revamping of the building and is slated to take over its liquor license:

- The whole of 2170 Market, including Cafe Du Nord and the Swedish American Hall, will close for an undetermined period next year for major renovations. "The Swedish Hall has been waiting for an elevator for 107 years, it was even built with a shaft," MacNiven writes. "The renovation is to add an elevator and ADA bathrooms throughout the building to bring it into modern compliance so that we can ensure the hall is accessible for its next 100 years." We asked him if the renovations will keep the existing performance stages and got no answer.

- Therefore, whether the new/revamped business will include live music is also unclear. [See update above.] We put that question straight to MacNiven. His response:

We are currently soliciting feedback from the community and have noted the overwhelming support for the Cafe Du Nord name and musical program. We also heard the desire for more controls of noise and crowds and can only surmise it will grow with the three adjacent residential developments. I can give you a small hint that I am a huge live music fan and that's why you see my name on the license.

Keen eyes will note that at least one local concert promoter, Shelby Ash, has scheduled a "Goodbye Cafe Du Nord" concert for the end of this month. "Please come out and show your support for local live music and say goodbye to one of the best live music venues in San Francisco," reads the Facebook invite. It's possible he knows something we don't, since all the parties involved in the sale of Du Nord have been wary of talking to us. However, Cafe Du Nord's concert calendar is full through the end of January and includes one event each in February and March. MacNiven, in his emails, said there were no concerts scheduled for the proposed renovation period, although he didn't specify what that period was.

Still, it doesn't look good for live music fans: So, Cafe Du Nord is changing owners, will be renovated, and may or may not continue to host shows as it has. If the club as we know it does come to an end, it would be a major blow to the city's live music scene. But we'll wax poetic on that in a future post. We're still seeking more information on changes to Du Nord and will update here as we get it.

-- @iPORT

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Ian S. Port


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