Bar Alliance leader speaks out / Local politicians want a 'public power enterprise'

It's Tuesday, July 27.

Note in the window of 440 Castro, asking customers to show proof of vaccination or a recent, negative Covid test. Yes, that’s me in the reflection.

Hey there, San Francisco.

Just over two weeks ago, Ben Bleiman, owner of Dr. Teeth, Soda Popinski's, and head of the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance, began hearing concerning stories from industry colleagues: bartenders, who were fully vaccinated, were coming down with Covid. 

“All of a sudden, it was just like wham, bam, bam,” Bleiman told me on Monday. At one bar, for instance, an owner said all five of their bartenders (all vaccinated) tested positive for the virus. 

“We were on the front lines and saw something that was maybe a week or two from being reported on,” he said. 

Thinking through his possibilities, Bleiman floated the idea on the Bar Alliance’s private Facebook page of requiring customers to show proof of vaccination (or a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours) to be allowed inside. Some bar owners worried about blowback from customers. But overall, the response overwhelmingly was positive—roughly nine to one were in favor of the requirement, Bleiman said. 

“It’s actually good for business,” he said. “You know what’s really bad for business? Closing because your staff has Covid. That’s really bad.” 

On Monday, the Bar Owner Alliance, which consists of some 500 owners representing over 300 bars in the city, issued a public statement announcing a vaccine requirement for indoor patrons. “This decision is based solely on our need to protect our workers, customers, and their families,” the statement read. “However, we hope it might also influence some who have not yet received vaccinations to do so as soon as they are able.” 

Bleiman said that enforcement will be up to each individual establishment and that he doesn’t anticipate publishing a list of participating bars. Regarding proof, Bleiman said he’d accept a photo of a person’s vaccination card at his bars, though it’s not clear if other spots will ask to see a physical card itself. 

Interestingly, Bleiman told me that bars are in a unique position to adopt such rules since most already have an employee at the door checking IDs. No extra staff needed. 

As for upset customers, Bleiman said bars rely far less on review sites (and thus, care much less about negative reviews) than, say, restaurants. “When’s the last time you were heading to a dive bar and were like, ‘Oh my god, let me get on Yelp and make sure that’s the right place for us?” he asked. 

Still, Bleiman said, he thinks other businesses, including restaurants, will follow suit in the coming weeks. 

“This is a winning position and the right side of history,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s all about protecting our staff and their families and our customers and our livelihoods...Everybody wins here. It’s a no-brainer.” 

And with that… onto some news… 

At a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor London Breed, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and State Senator Scott Wiener requested that the value of PG&E’s San Francisco assets be assessed so that “SF can purchase them for a public power enterprise,” Weiner said.

A PG&E spokesperson later responded, saying the request was “another waste of time and resources” and that it “doesn’t agree that the outcomes of this type of ownership change will benefit customers, taxpayers, other local communities, the state or our economy.” (Here/Say)

On Tuesday, a judge ruled that the San Francisco School Board cannot cover up a controversial, New Deal-era mural at Washington High School, at least for now, citing that the board failed to follow proper legal procedures in its 2019 decision.

Part of 1,600 square foot painting, named “The Life of Washington,” depicts slavery and white settlers stepping over a dead Native American, something that some parents and students said they shouldn’t have to see on a daily basis. (Chronicle

Quick bits: 

  • 🚌 The Chronicle had a good profile today on Chris Arvin, a 31-year-old freelance designer who’s become one of the top voices among public transportation advocates in the city. Some refer to Arvin as “Transit Boy” or San Francisco’s “top transpo nerd.” He’s someone to follow on Twitter, for sure. 

    “I would be hard pressed to think of others in this city who have the level of knowledge and expertise he has,” Supervisor Dean Preston told the Chronicle. (Chronicle

  • 😍 I’ve refrained from including parklet photo articles in the newsletter because, well, we all see them when we’re out-and-about. But this top 10 parklet list by Eater on Tuesday was well-done and worth a browse. My takeaway: I’m heading to Cotogna as soon as possible. (Eater

  • 🍦 The popular dessert company Milk Bar is hosting its first-ever San Francisco pop-up at the Gott’s Ferry Building location this Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 pm. (SFGate

And finally… 

I wanted to give a shoutout to Joey Roth, Shannon Broderick, and Dan Yue, co-founders and creators of a cold-brew coffee maker called Osma. The three invited me into their Noe Valley home/office/testing facility last week to check out the brand new device, and it’s awesome. 

Great tasting cold brew, which normally can take 16-24 hours to produce, is ready in just 90 seconds with the Osma machine. The team explained the technicalities of how this works, but it was lost on me with all the caffeine I consumed in their kitchen. If you’re interested in the process, their website is a great resource and chock full of detailed information. 

And if you’re interested in an Osma for your home or office, there may be some lead time, but the team is starting to ship its machines to wait-list customers starting this week. The cost: $695

One more thing before you go! We are almost at 2,000 subscribers, which is so cool! And to hit that milestone, I had an idea.

Send me a name, Twitter handle, or email address of someone who you think would enjoy reading The SF Minute, and I’ll reach out to them personally to see if they’d be interested in subscribing. (I won’t auto-subscribe anyone, I promise.)

Feel free to reply here or at

For every name, Twitter handle, or email address you send, I’ll put your name “in the hat” that many times. And next week, I’ll pick one winner to receive a $100 gift card to a San Francisco restaurant or retail shop of your choice.

Sound good? Thanks so much for helping The SF Minute grow!

See you back here tomorrow! - Nick B.

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