Tonight at the Lucky Horseshoe: A Meeting About Live Music

Lucky Horseshoe

Lucky Horseshoe

Now that the Lucky Horseshoe bar has installed its new sign, the legacy of the former Skip’s Tavern — which used to occupy the space at 453 Cortland — is now no more than a memory. But for the new owners of the Lucky Horseshoe, that’s precisely the problem.

Skip’s was a lively and colorful place. But it was also a troublesome neighbor for some Bernal Heights residents who lived nearby. The new owners of the Lucky Horseshoe also live in Bernal Heights, and they have been very focused on making sure the bar integrates smoothly into the neighborhood.

The Lucky Horseshoe now wants to secure an entertainment license, so that the bar can play host to live music performances. The City will hold a hearing on the license application in mid-December, but tonight at 6 pm, the Lucky Horseshoe will hold an informal meeting to talk about their vision for the place.

In an email to Bernalwood, Lucky Horsehoe co-owner Eric Embry explains:

We’re having a meeting at the bar Wednesday 30 November at 6PM to discuss our plans for live music and to address the concerns that anyone in the neighborhood might have with our desire to have live music and other entertainment (such as DJs) at The Lucky Horseshoe.

We have received hundreds of signatures and many letters of support from Bernal folks who not only are thrilled with what we’ve done to the place so far, but also with the potential for live music to once again have a place on Cortland Avenue. We sincerely hope that anyone with concerns will show up and let them be known. We hope that before our December 13 hearing date that we can have EVERYBODY in the neighborhood on board!

We’ve worked to address every concern that we heard this spring during the sale of the bar, and we think we’ve done an excellent job converting a contentious bar into a neighborhood asset. Our policy is that anyone is welcome, as long as they respect our business and our neighborhood. It’s a policy that we think is fair, effective, and welcoming to patrons new and old. I personally think [Lucky Horseshoe co-owner/bartender] Lisa is a superhero for facing down many bad elements who USED to come in to see if they could still get away with what they did at the old bar, and she’s usually done this all by herself. We’re proud of the job we’ve done, and we know many people — including our direct neighbors — have experienced relief and excitement over the changes we’ve made.

If folks can’t make it to the meeting, here is our plan in a nutshell: We aim to book high quality music with an emphasis on sophistication. As a musician myself I’ve played pretty much every small-venue gig in town, and I know the difference between a show with good sound quality/volume levels and a gig that’s just ridiculously loud and obnoxious. We want patrons to be able to hear their conversations while the music plays, rather than leave the bar with ears ringing; the latter is just no fun, even if the music is great.

We plan to prioritize booking acts that come from right here in Bernal Heights, because this neighborhood is rich with superbly talented musicians whom we’d like to showcase. This has many added benefits: less cars to park,  fewer “out-of-towners” coming to the neighborhood, and more of a sense of accountability with the musicians. We’ll not only have beautiful quality sound at enjoyable levels and a sound tech on site in control of the stage, but also a contract for the musicians to sign before accepting a gig that puts responsibility for respecting the venue and neighborhood in their hands.

There will be “Guard Card” trained employees working the door to make sure that our patrons aren’t loitering in the streets either during or after shows. This is required of us by law, and if you know us, you know we do everything by the letter of the law. Folks can rest assured that we will never be granted this permit if adequate soundproofing isn’t present, as a sound pressure level inspection is part of the permitting process. We look forward to exceeding the standards, because we’re proud to call ourselves a neighborhood bar and want nothing more than to be embraced by Bernal Heights when we have live music.

As an example of how live music at the bar can enrich our neighborhood for EVERYONE, we’ll be holding a fundraiser for the library mural project on the 8th of December, after the winter shopping stroll.

Lisa and I have changed 453 Cortland 180 degrees for the better, and we hope the neighborhood has confidence in our ability to change the music culture at the location as well. Let’s celebrate the arts together! It’s one of the reasons we all live in San Francisco.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

9 thoughts on “Tonight at the Lucky Horseshoe: A Meeting About Live Music

  1. As a fan of both live music and quiet conditions conducive to sleeping, I like your plan. I can’t make it tonight because I have a class, so thanks for sharing your vision here.

    May I recommend my talented husband (and Bernal resident), Bob Hillman, for a future gig? He is a terrific songwriter and performer and amazing at improvisation.

    In any case, I look forward to hearing music from other talented, glamorous, good-looking Bernalwoodians!

  2. Its really sad that skips is gone, as it was a time capsule of people who used to make up bernal heights. It was a shame to go in there a few months ago and see the redacted version of skips: discolored rectangles on the walls, marking where the posters of the 49ers glory days used to hang proudly, diverse patrons replaced with empty seats and an ipod with tiny speakers pinch hitting for great live music (usually with that fat guy as the resident bassist).

    No sympathy for the weenies who felt empowered to try to crush the music at skips years ago because they spent astronomical amounts of money on their property Bummer that he sold the place. Hope the music continues

  3. A live music venue in our neighborhood is an asset and I fully support it. For that matter, anything that retains the character of our neighborhood (and that includes the old timers, so should I say characters?) is also needed and so I too miss Skip’s although I rarely walked through its doors in the 10-plus years I’ve lived in Bernal. I did not personally experience the problems that (apparently) took place at (in front of?) Skip’s, so I may be uninformed in my lack of sympathy for the complainers. Nightlife is one of many reasons why we choose urban living, and nightlife on Cortland is very much needed for our mini business corridor. It does seem irritating when people buy a home in a city near a bar/club and then complain about it. Just my two cents. Thanks for the info.

  4. People that really care should email the Entertainment Commission before 5pm on 12/7. The address is This has turned in to a Big guy vs. Little guy fight. Good Life Grocery and its wealthy owner blames the owners of the Lucky Horseshoe for all the negative that Skips left behind. Especially the battle for Good Life parking lot. He has already spent lots of money fighting the Lucky Horseshoe. Occupy Good Life? As stated by SAB, night life is one of the reasons we choose urban living, don’t let the owners of Good Life Grocery take live music from Bernal Heights. The other two bars on Cortland should be paying attention to this.

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