LGBTQ bar reopening in SF's beleaguered Financial District

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 26, 2024
Share this Post:
The bar at Ginger's will once again be serving cocktails starting Friday, June 28. Photo: Courtesy Future Bars
The bar at Ginger's will once again be serving cocktails starting Friday, June 28. Photo: Courtesy Future Bars

Ginger's, the San Francisco Financial District's only LGBTQ bar, is planning a grand reopening Pride weekend.

The space, at 86 Hardie Place, had been shuttered since the COVID pandemic in March 2020, according to Dana Marinelli, a lesbian who'd previously been general manager at the Oasis nightclub in the city's South of Market neighborhood from 2021 till earlier this year, when she started at Future Bars.

The company owns a number of Financial District watering holes, including Nightingale (239 Kearny Street), Rickhouse (246 Kearny Street), and Pagan Idol (375 Bush Street). Marinelli said when she found out that Ginger's was in Future Bars' portfolio, "I made a passionate presentation to the board and they greenlit me to reopen it."

Marinelli described it as "a huge passion project, and I couldn't be happier."

Dana Marinelli of Future Bars got the OK to reopen Ginger's. Photo: Courtesy Dana Marinelli  

"I made my pitch, but it was a timing thing, really," she said. "I didn't want to let Pride go by."

But the Pride weekend extravaganza doesn't mean the bar will be open for regular hours come Monday, July 1, she said. The goal is to open on a regular basis "the third or fourth week of July," with weekdays coming in August, Marinelli added. It was on weekday happy hours that the bar drew office workers from the surrounding Financial District, home of San Francisco's largest concentration of corporate headquarters and financial institutions.

"It's the only queer-identified bar in the Financial District — so everyone feels a really special kind of way about Ginger's, and it's been a safe haven for the LGBTQ community within the FiDi," Marinelli said.

Colorful history
There have been various incarnations of Ginger's over the years — Ginger's, Ginger's Too, and Ginger's Trois. The bar closed in 2008 at the Hardie Place location. It later reopened in the basement of the Rickhouse in 2017, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, and was also operated at the time by Future Bars.

As B.A.R. columnist Michael Flanagan wrote in 2015, "Ginger's Trois opened in December 1991. It was a favorite of the late B.A.R. columnist Sweet Lips [aka Richard Walters], who would often call it 'an inexpensive bar for people with money' — which became the motto of the bar."

An interior shot of Ginger's, a historic LGBTQ bar in San Francisco's Financial District. Photo: Courtesy Future Bars  

Boosting downtown
The city has been seeking to boost the beleaguered downtown neighborhood. In recent decades, the city's Pacific Stock Exchange — the so-called Wall Street of the West — closed in 2002, and tech firms preferred to set up shop in the newly developed South of Market.

But things really took a downturn in 2020 during the COVID pandemic. The streets, bereft of office workers then working from home, highlighted open-air drug use and sales in the eyes of the public and the media. Combined with issues concerning car break-ins, and organized retail theft, businesses began an exodus. According to a report from the Institute of Governmental Studies released last year, downtown San Francisco ranked last among 62 North American cities in recovering from the pandemic.

The downtown downturn was blamed for the closure in June of another LGBTQ bar, Club OMG, at 43 Sixth Street, just south of Market Street, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

City government has been trying to boost downtown, particularly the Financial District, by cutting red tape to allow for more housing and nightlife opportunities there. For example, voters passed Proposition C in March, which was billed by Mayor London Breed as an incentive for downtown developers to convert empty commercial space into residential use.

Last month, the Downtown SF Partnership, a community benefit district that stretches across the Financial District and the Jackson Square Historic District, announced the second Drag Me Downtown, a series of rotating drag pop-up shows at different venues each Thursday of Pride Month, from 5 to 7 p.m., to help boost downtown businesses.

The final event takes place June 27 at One Market Restaurant at 1 Market Street.

"Initiatives like Drag Me Downtown are exactly the type of unique and collaborative efforts that will help us to make downtown a 24/7 destination," Breed stated in a news release. "I want to thank the Downtown SF Partnership for bringing together some of the best that San Francisco has to offer: our fabulous drag artists and incredible small businesses coming together to support our city and our diverse communities."

People interested in attending can pre-register for $10 at here, though pre-registration isn't required. People who pre-register will get Pride-themed swag.

Pride weekend fun
The weekend festivities at Ginger's will begin Friday, June 28, at 6 p.m. with a blessing and ribbon cutting by the drag nun group the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Afterward will be a party hosted by Miss Shugana and Madd-Dogg 20/20 of Shug-Dogg Productions, with special guests Kylie Minono, MGM Grande, Laundra Tyme, and Helixir Jynder Byntwell.

Miss Shugana and Madd-Dogg 20/20, the co-owners of Shug-Dogg Productions, gave a joint statement to the B.A.R.

"We can't tell you how excited we were to hear that Ginger's is reopening," they stated. "We always loved that bar and the staff, so getting to host the opening party is a true honor."

The following night will have a party hosted by Teresa Giudcoochie and Tony OMFG of Iconique featuring drag icons Raya Light, Suppositori Spelling, Bionka Simone, and Jota Mercury.

Finally, on Sunday, June 30, the day of the city's LGBTQ Pride parade, Elsa Touche and Kiki Krunch will host a party at 2 p.m.

"I am so excited to perform on Pride Day itself on the grand reopening of one of San Francisco's iconic gay bars," Krunch, Miss GAPA 2023, stated to the B.A.R. "I am honored to be the first API transwoman gracing the stage of Ginger's in its historical reopening.

"As reigning Miss GAPA, representing my community and helping uplift my culture is very important. I want 'FiDi' to witness API drag excellence," Krunch added.

Marinelli said, "People are so excited" the bar is coming back.

"Because it's FiDi, it's an after-work spot, but because it's an LGBTQ space, it's really a respite for the queer people who work 9-5 in the FiDi," she said.

People interested in applying to work at Gingers should email [email protected]

Never miss a story! Keep up to date on the latest news, arts, politics, entertainment, and nightlife.
Sign up for the Bay Area Reporter's free weekday email newsletter. You'll receive our newsletters and special offers from our community partners.

Support California's largest LGBTQ newsroom. Your one-time, monthly, or annual contribution advocates for LGBTQ communities. Amplify a trusted voice providing news, information, and cultural coverage to all members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay -- Donate today!