Revealed: The Future of the Former Stray Bar on Cortland



Bernalwood has received lots and lots and lots of questions about the former home of the (much-loved) Stray Bar on Cortland.

The interior of the bar was gutted a few weeks back, and a peek through the window reveals a hollowed-out shell that has been stripped down to the studs.  Clearly, this will not be a lightweight refresh of the old space. But what will it become?

Bernalwood has been in touch with the new owners for the last several weeks, and here’s what we’ve learned: The new proprietors also own two other bars in San Francisco, Churchill on Church at Duboce Triangle and Bloodhound on Folsom in SoMa.

The new name of the Cortland location has not been revealed, but Michael Goebel, a co-owner of the bar, tells Bernalwood:

We are still in the infant stages of our design/aestetic part of the project. What I can tell you is that we will be a friendly, locally focused, simple neighborhood bar. We are very excited about being a part of this close knit and unique community. The more time we spend here and the more we get to know people, the clearer our vision gets of how to create our space.

I can tell you that we will create something along the same lines as our sister bars Churchill and Bloodhound. We will be cocktail focused, spirit driven, and serve regional beers and wines.

If you have been by the space you can see  we are still in the beginning of the construction phase of things. We have relocated the bathrooms and opened the place up quite nicely. We are still hammering out final touches of design and concept, but what i wrote earlier is definitely true. We will be a great neighborhood bar focused on great, approachable, hand crafted cocktails. We will feature local artisan beers and wines and our staff will be focused entirely and creating a great customer experience.

This bar is a neighborhood bar first, with a laid back setting, comfortable for everyone. The space will have some amazing design elements to it as well, but more to come on that later — once I figure it all out 🙂

A final note: The new owners have informed Bernalwood that the big old painting that was on the wall of the Stray Bar has found a good home at Avedano’s, up the street.  That’s a relief.

PHOTOS: The former Stray Bar, June 2013. By Telstar Logistics

42 thoughts on “Revealed: The Future of the Former Stray Bar on Cortland

  1. Anyone know what happened to the hood of the car that used to be in the pool room? It was from the race car that Stray Bar sponsored with the Bernal Dads way back when.

  2. Thanks for the update. FWIW, the 4 things I loved about Stray bar: 1) allowed dogs inside, 2) NFL games on the tube, 3) great bar tender/staff, 4) solid Bloody Marys.

  3. If it falls into Churchill’s zone, this is good news: a good bar but not so great that the neighborhood will be overrun by trend-seekers. My mouth says “yessss!, my liver says “help!” 😀

    • I dunno. Churchill seems to be overrun by hipsters. Someone could make a fortune by setting up a skinny jean cart outside of the old Stray Bar.

  4. You can expect a bevy of $10- $15 cocktails, reclaimed wood, and a “vintage” decor with modern artsy elements and mood lighting. Probably going to be called “The Gold Digger”. Just a guess.

  5. I loved Stray Bar, but I’m pretty stoked about this too – sounds like it’ll round out the bar categories on Cortland. Wine bars, beer bars, cocktail bars, we’ve got ‘em all!

  6. SoMa? SoMa? NoNo! NoNo! NoNo!

    It’s South of Market, or if you’re a real historian, South of the Slot. SoMa is a stupid stupid stupid moniker trying to make a working class neighborhood into hipster paradise like San Jose’s SoFa and NYC’s SoHo. NoNo.

    Calling South of Market SoMa is as bad as calling San Francisco San Fran!

    I actually have no problem with Nopa, because the area didn’t really have an identity at the time the Nopa designation came to be.

    • I have no problem with “Soma”, where as “Nopa” is just realtors trying to re-name the Western Addition.

      • The area north of the Panhandle is not the Western Addition, which historically ends north of Fulton and east of Masonic. It’s just generally the “Haight Ashbury”, but people in the Haight don’t consider it part of their neighborhood.

      • I don’t know if anyone can ever win a bet as to the boundaries of the Western Addition. 19th Century maps mark it as a huge swath west of Van Ness extending from Fort Mason to at least Fell and Oak. Mid-20th Century planning maps show it extending as far south as Duboce and Market streets, and west to Masonic (though the infamous W.A. redevelopment district was considerably smaller). Real estate sales neighborhood maps redefine it as a smaller and smaller area as time goes on, in favor of tonier-sounding nabes like Nopa, Lower Pacific Heights, etc.

  7. Oh christ, I really hope it is less douche-y than Churchill’s. That place is fucking horrendous.

    • You already made that rude comment once already. If that’s how you act, that’s how you get treated.

      • You mean if your bar is aimed at douchebags, then people will call you out on it? Yeah, that’s true… or, at least, it should be.

  8. As for the remake of the Stray Bar, it’s easy to predict what it will become based on the boatloads of money being spent on renovation. $10-12 cocktails will be the order of the day. And expect to be edged out by hipsters younger than you.

  9. this is fantastic news! love bloodhound! miss stray bar, but think this is a brilliant move by the new owners!

  10. “…the big old painting that was on the wall of the Stray Bar has found a good home at Avedano’s, up the street. That’s a relief.”

    I would say “No, it’s a painting.”, but I don’t want you thinking that Herr Doktor Deth Vegetable is one of my online personae!

  11. So glad the painting was saved! Me and my dog planned to go as the lady and her oxen one year for Halloween, but plans fell through. I was going to carry around a Nazi helmet to place randomly in the background and everything.

  12. “We will be a great neighborhood bar focused on great, approachable, hand crafted cocktails. ”

    Just some quibbles:

    1. What’s a good example of an unapproachable cocktail?
    2. What’s a non-hand crafted cocktail?

    I’m glad, though, that nobody said “our cocktails are made with love”. 🙂

    • The quote is BS-ese for “We won’t sell any cocktail for less than $9.” And, yes, all cocktails are hand-crafted unless they’re made from a mix, such as a bloody mary. But who on earth would sell a bloody mary from a mix?

    • non-hand crafted cocktail = liquor + flavor mix. hand crafted cocktail = juices squeezed in, ingredients added individually, rinds twisted, bits muddled, etc. Kind of like fresh vs packaged.

  13. As a former denizen of the Lower Haight and a new resident of BernalWood, I’m stoked to see the guys from Churchill’s coming to the hood. Maybe its full of 20-somethings in ironic vintage and tight jeans on Saturday nights (uh, you live within stumbling distance of the mission…), but the guys who own it and work there are really nice. They’re welcoming and mellow with regulars: my knitting crew, parties at their event space, and community gatherings for major sporting events. They make a killer hot toddy, fancy cocktails are <$10 and the beer is $5. I don't know about Bloodhound, but the vibe they created in the Lower Haight was well worth welcoming.

    • Different owners…Churchills has multiple owners but not all who own Churchills also own former Stray or Brass Tacks…if you want to know who owns what look up liquor license query at….cheers!

  14. Hi everyone, Karen here (former owner of Stray Bar). First I’d like to thank you for so many kind sentiments regarding the former Stray Bar. It was my baby that I raised for 7 years…not an easy task in light of the revolving door of owners before me. And when it came time to decide to sell I didnt post a “for sale” sign out front, and I did not take offers lightly. There were several offers w many buyers wanting to do some ridiculous things. I was happy to say “no” until the right business people (no not just buyers but business people) came along.

    But for those of you skeptical of the new owners – I ask you – don’t judge until you’ve checked out what they have done. These guys are sharp, smart, and honest to goodness good guys. They have proven track records in business and care for the neighborhoods where their businesses reside. Mike is a walking encyclopedia of SF business knowledge.

    I don’t have to say any of this – the sale has been done since about 3 months ago. I did not take turning over my baby to new owners lightly and I love Bernal Heights…I was a part of this neighborhood long before Stray Bar—a part of the area for 15 years. I think Mike & company will do great things & take this space to a new level — and that means great things for Cortland Ave.

    Also, for those asking about the Stray Bar hood – this was given to me as a gift from the Bernal Dads and may take a place in a future business home. I have retained the rights to Stray Bar….logo and all……there’s a Stray Dog Bar in Ecuador…so I’m currently in Chile checking out opportunities here (just kidding) but seriously I did just get to meet the Chilean relatives of Antoinette, Shukry, Lizzy, and the rest of the amazing Lama family (Chucks corner store)…so maybe there’s a future colaboration there? 🙂


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