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San Francisco Home > Nightlife > Heart of Gold

Published February 04, 2013

Heart of Gold
The Return of the Gold Dust Lounge

So. Last night was...

Actually, let’s talk about another comeback. A successful comeback. See, after 47 years in business, the Gold Dust Lounge was evicted. Now, after a five-month battle involving benefit pub crawls, rally songs and one Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem, it’s back to its old ways in new Fisherman’s Wharf digs.

Herewith, a succinct analysis of then and now:

Then: Notable regulars like Jack LaLanne, Janis Joplin and Steve McQueen. (It actually had a two-second cameo in Bullitt.)
Now: Veteran regulars—including Joplin’s former agent—reminiscing about Joplin’s predilection for Southern Comfort and Jack LaLanne’s mighty, whiskey-powered handshakes.

Then: A ceiling painted with cherubs and naked ladies dating from when GDL was a burlesque bar co-owned by Bing Crosby.
Now: A digital recreation of the mural delayed the opening. But it was worth the wait.

Then: Herb Caen sat at the back of the bar near the bandstand so he could play drums with Johnny Z and the Camaros at last call.
Now: The Caen-blessed stools that survived the move have a cast-iron base (the new ones are wood). Johnny Z and the Camaros have an opening for a drummer.

Then: $3.50 champagne, $3.50 Irish coffee, $3.50 margaritas.
Now: $3.50 champagne, $3.50 Irish coffee, $3.50 margaritas.

If it ain’t broke...
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