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Historic SF Gay Bar Ginger's Trois Reborn

by Sari Staver

Staff of the new Ginger's Trois
Staff of the new Ginger's Trois  (Source:Steven Underhill)

Gay bar history got a resurrection of sorts, with the soft opening of the new/old Ginger's Trois, located in the basement of Rickhouse, the bar that took over its location several years ago. The old Ginger's Trois closed January 30, 2008.

The Financial District dive bar's new incarnation will soon expand its schedule and offer entertainment, according to an interview with manager Michael Sedlacek.

Sedlacek, a 29-year-old gay man, has been one of the managers of parent company Future Bars for the past three years. Future Bars operates a number of other trendy watering holes, including Tradition, Bourbon and Branch, Local Addition, and Pagan Idol.

In a Bay Area Reporter interview, Sedlacek said that Ginger's first weekend was "great," following a soft opening for staff on May 3 and a private party last Thursday night.

But is the new Ginger's Trois an actual gay bar, since it's set inside a straight bar that replaced it? In these days of stray (straight/gay) bars, is hanging up a rainbow flag enough for a venue that wants to attraact LGBT patrons?

"I wanted to create a local watering hole that could pay respects to the previous bar with the same name," Sedlacek said. The original Ginger's Trois had been located upstairs of the new venue at 246 Kearny, where Rickhouse is located. The front door to Ginger's is on Hardie Place, a half-block long alley around the corner from Rickhouse.

"With so many gay bars closing, we wanted to create something new where everyone would feel welcome," said Sedlacek.

The original Ginger's Trois at 245 Kearny was something of a mixed bag, according to B.A.R. BARchive columnist Micheal Flanagan's recent feature.

"The owner, Don Rogers, had owned bars in the Tenderloin as well as downtown and his clientele came from both the business and the Tenderloin worlds.

"Rogers began his entertainment career at LeBoeuf Restaurant (545 Washington Street) in the 1960s and opened the first Ginger's at 100 Eddy in 1978. This first bar lasted until the late 1980s. By the time it closed, Rogers had opened Ginger's Too on 43 6th Street.

"Ginger's Trois opened in December 1991. It was a favorite of the late B.A.R. columnist Sweet Lips, who would often call it 'an inexpensive bar for people with money' - which became the motto of the bar."

The owners of the new Ginger's Trois bought the business, including the use of the name, from Don Rogers. Most of the bartenders in the new venue will be LGBT, said Sedlacek.

Ginger's Trois, built in the space previously used for storage and prep by Rickhouse, is currently open Thursday-Saturday from 5PM to closing.

Within the next few weeks, Sedlacek hopes to expand the number of days the bar is open and "add entertainment, including drag shows, if I can find the right people," he said.

While Sedaleck never visited the previous Ginger's Trois, "as a regular patron of The Cinch on Polk Street, I have many friends who were regulars and let me know how much they had loved it," he said, adding, "We were really pleased with the turnout over the weekend."

The new menu features five specialty cocktails at $9, as well as a specialty shot at $4, and a selection of beer, wine, and cider priced from $5-$10.

The cocktails include Ghost of Ginger's, a blend of gin, lime, mint, ginger and sparkling wine, and the Esta Noche, which is made with tecquila blanco, jalepeno-cucumber, lime, and ginger beer. The Death Drop Kamikaze specialty shot is made with vodka, lime, and blood orange.

So, while new drinks and entertainment may bring in patrons, nostalgic memories may also do the same.

Former patrons recalled their fond memories of Ginger's Trois.

Kevin Grady, a gay man who worked in the Financial District for many years, told the B.A.R. via email that he loved to stop at Ginger's Trois on the way home.

"It was seedy, but in the right way," said Grady, who recently moved to Attleboro, Massachusetts. "There is nothing like Ginger's here," he said. "I really liked it. It was very homey and welcoming."

Sara Mitra Payan, who identifies as a queer woman, wrote about visiting the original Ginger's Trois in 2001.

"It was my favorite old divey San Francisco bar," she wrote. "I wish I could remember the names of the bartenders. They were kind of crabby until you got to know them. After that, I'd always head there a couple times a month for drinks."

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