Old Harvey's space gets new name

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday February 1, 2024
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The former Harvey's Restaurant and Bar has a new name, and the planning commission signed off on a conditional use authorization at its February 1 meeting. Photo: Scott Wazlowski
The former Harvey's Restaurant and Bar has a new name, and the planning commission signed off on a conditional use authorization at its February 1 meeting. Photo: Scott Wazlowski

It won't be Brut, but Pink Swallow that will anchor the intersection of Castro and 18th streets.

This is according to the new ownership group that acquired a lease to operate in the old Harvey's space at 500 Castro Street last year after the restaurant's abrupt closure.

Joshua J. Cook, a gay man who is in the ownership group and speaks for it, confirmed the new name to the Bay Area Reporter the same day the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved changes they plan to make at the space.

"It's a play on words with multiple meanings, that people of all communities, ages, and backgrounds can enjoy," Cook stated February 1. "Pink pays homage and respect to the Castro community, queer community, pink triangle, and anyone that identifies with the LGBTQIA community. The Swallow bird has many positive symbolic meanings all over the world, such as love, rebirth, luck, loyalty, and overall positive energy.

Cook noted the name also has a playful and flirty "tongue in cheek" connotation to it.

"Overall, we are excited and hopeful that the community will enjoy swallowing all of our delicious food and hand-made cocktails," Cook told the B.A.R.

The ownership group is composed of Cook, the general manager at Beaux nightclub at 2344 Market Street, and other Beaux stalwarts Alexis Lucero, Matthew Mello and Garrett Beighton, and Realtor Marco Caravajal. The new space is being designed by Gi Paoletti Design Lab.

B.A.R. readers may remember that back in August the group had selected the name BRUT Bar, Bites and Nightclub. However, the name was withdrawn shortly thereafter. As the B.A.R. had pointed out, BRÜT, with an umlaut, is the name of an LGBTQ house music dance party that occurs with regular frequency in a number of places, including Los Angeles, Provincetown, Fire Island, and San Francisco.

When first asked about BRÜT, Cook had told the B.A.R. that he was "not aware of a party of that name." BRÜT's Dan Darlington didn't seem pleased when responding to the B.A.R.'s inquiry regarding the name.

"We have owned a federal trademark registration for BRÜT for more than seven years," he stated. "The public has come to associate that mark with the high-quality services we provide. Our IP is valuable to us, and we are evaluating our options for protecting our mark and eliminating any likelihood of confusion."

As for the new name, Cook stated, "We are still in the process of obtaining the trademark, our application was accepted three months ago. However, we don't anticipate any opposition as there are no existing trademarks of the same name."

Planning panel gives OK

Meanwhile, the city's planning commission approved a conditional use authorization at its noon meeting February 1 to establish a nighttime entertainment zone on the first and second floors of the space.

"The project includes a storefront merger of two existing storefront spaces at 500 Castro Street and 504 Castro Street, interior alterations, and exterior alterations. The proposed hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.," the authorization states. "The restaurant use will operate for brunch, lunch, dinner service, and a late-night bar menu. The Planning Department found that the project is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Commission's action constitutes the Approval Action for the project for the purposes of CEQA, pursuant to San Francisco Administrative Code Section 31.04(h)."

The recommendation had been to approve the project, which the commissioners did unanimously as part of the meeting's consent calendar. Thus, it didn't hold a hearing on it.

"We are pleased to have received planning commission approval without discussion," Cook stated. "We look forward to the next steps of the process and further community outreach."

Pink Swallow is expected to open this summer.

The space was initially the home of the Elephant Walk, which first opened in 1974. The disco diva Sylvester performed there, and it was a site of reprisal early May 22, 1979, when San Francisco police officers came in and attacked patrons following the White Night riots downtown, which were a response to the late gay San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk's killer, Dan White, receiving only a seven-year sentence for his 1978 crimes of assassinating Milk and then-mayor George Moscone in City Hall. (White ended up serving five years and later died by suicide.)

After a fire almost destroyed it in the late 1980s, the Elephant Walk required extensive remodeling. Harvey's was opened in the space in 1996 by Paul Langley, the property owner, who had refused to renew the Elephant Walk's lease. The Paul Langley Co. owns the property to this day.

Updated, 2/6/24: This article has been updated with a reference to Harvey's predecessor, the old Elephant Walk bar.

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