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Long Road To Recovery For San Francisco Bar In 2 Years Since COVID-19 Shutdown

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) - The center of San Francisco's city flag is a phoenix rising from the ashes. The symbol is also appropriate for the city's bar industry two years out from the first pandemic lockdown.

It's especially appropriate for Lower Nob Hill bar Pacific Cocktail Haven on Sutter streets. Packed at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday, one wouldn't know just how touch and go things got for owner Kevin Diedrich and staff.

"Getting through the pandemic was tough on all small businesses here in San Francisco," he told KPIX 5.

First came the lockdowns in 2020, shuttering bars. Then a small slice of salvation -- the advent of outdoor dining and bar service. But, the joy of reopening was short lived for Diedrich.

"Three weeks. Three weeks. We literally just brought all of our team back and we were only open three days a week to start. It was three weeks and the bar burned down on Monday morning at 2 a.m."

The electrical fire made the bar a total loss. $180,000 in liquor was gone, nothing left inside. Diedrich considered hanging up his bar towel.

"Is this an out? How do we get out? Is this the time to fold it up and get going?" he recalled.

But he carried on.

Pacific Cocktail Haven re-opened Wednesday – just a few doors down from its original Sutter Street location. This location has a pandemic lesson built right in, an outdoor patio.

Pacific Cocktail Haven
Pacific Cocktail Haven in San Francisco reopened on March 16, 2022. (CBS)

Regulars are already back. "It's almost surreal, having things back open - it feels back to normal," said neighbor Brian Wong.

There's a renewed energy in the city - as well as a new appreciation for the little annoyances of daily life that disappeared during those first, dark days of the pandemic.

"You're driving around now and you're like, "Man, I hate this traffic", but it's kind of a welcoming thing to see people back around, people walking around on the streets. Tourists being here. It's amazing, it feels great for the city," said Diedrich.

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