Iconic Castro Gay Bar Harvey's Shutters in San Francisco

by Emell Adolphus

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday January 26, 2023

The logo for Harvey's
The logo for Harvey's  (Source:Harveyssf.com)

The LGBTQ+ community has lost another iconic watering hole and historic hangout.

As reported by SFGate, Harvey's, a longtime staple of San Francisco's Castro district, abruptly closed its doors on Sunday, leaving little more than a short notice to the community. On Instagram, the restaurant posted a photo of the handwritten sign that was posted on its door.

"This is our last day being open. What is next? We don't know, but we know we will miss all of you!" it said.

Named after San Francisco supervisor and LGBTQ+ activist Harvey Milk, Harvey's opened in 1996. Before that, it was a bar and restaurant called Elephant Walk, which Milk praised as "a place where the gay community could meet, feel safe and secure while at the same time be visible to the whole world," according to the bar's website.

After Milk was assassinated, and following a fire that nearly destroyed the building in 1988, the owner rebranded the space and reopened the restaurant in Milk's memory. The bar included historic photos and other memorabilia of the Castro neighborhood on its walls and became known for carrying such history.

"Harvey's is an iconic restaurant & location in the Castro," posted state Sen. Scott Wiener on Twitter. "As a 25 year resident of the neighborhood, I'm heartbroken it's closing & hope it'll reopen soon as a new restaurant or bar. My office will be available to the laid off workers to help them obtain unemployment benefits."

Longtime fans of the space were seemingly heartbroken as well, and began sharing memories of their experiences.

"Harvey's helped me fall completely in love with SF and was woven into the fabric of my 5+ years living there," commented one patron on the Instagram announcement. "Thank you for all the memories. I'll miss you."

The pandemic reportedly played a big role in the bar's financial challenges over the past few years.

"Harvey's is an anchor business and home to countless memories for so many Castro residents," wrote District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman on Twitter. "This is a huge loss for the neighborhood and I hope to see a new gay bar or restaurant open there soon."

Us, too.