The Weeknighter: The Homestead
Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That's why each week Stuart Schuffman will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, giving you the lowdown on how and where to do your weeknight right. From the most creative cocktails to the best happy hours, Stuart's taking you along on his weeknight adventures into the heart of the City's nightlife. So, who wants a drink?
I had just moved back to San Francisco after a year in that far and distant land called Brooklyn. In my absence, my friend Mike had discovered The Homestead and he wanted to take me there. As we approached the place I’d previously known as Dylan’s, a guy walked out the front door, looked at me and said, “Hey you’re Broke-Ass Stuart.” He then turned to his girlfriend and said, “He looks exactly like he does on the cover of his book.” I peered down and realized, much to my chagrin, that I was indeed dressed exactly as I was on the cover of my recently published New York City book. It was my first of many embarrassing experiences at The Homestead, plenty of which I’m sure have yet to happen. It was also my introduction to the bar that, until my recent move, was my go-to local watering hole for celebrations, drowning my sorrows, and baskets of peanuts.
Yes, baskets of peanuts. They cost only $1 and are as abundant at The Homestead as guys with mustaches, girls with granny glasses, and perfectly chosen songs on the jukebox. And the best part is you get to throw them on the ground! As eco-conscious, litterbug-hating San Franciscans, there’s something thrilling and almost atavistic about being expected to throw your refuse on the ground. It’s a little rush I always revel in.
The rest of that first night at The Homestead was either uneventful or really boozy, because I don’t remember much else about it. I’m sure I noticed the velvet paintings of naked ladies, the gilded Dylan Thomas quote above the bar, the Victorian wallpaper, and the laughter and din that had probably sounded the same since the place first opened its doors (under another name) around the turn of the last century. But at the time it would’ve been impossible for me to know that I’d spend my 29th birthday in the rented out backroom (only like $30!) and that my girlfriend at the time would drunkenly throw a cupcake at me for thinking I touched another girl’s ass. Or that when I got the green light to make my TV show with IFC, I’d celebrate by putting down my card and buying drinks for anyone I knew who walked in the door that night. Or even that I’d be spending many, many Monday evenings drinking $1 PBRs and listening to old 78’s during the weekly Shellac Shack party.
My history at The Homestead is just a drop in the bucket compared to what those walls have seen over the past 100-plus years. There’s even a supposed booklet behind the bar detailing the spot’s history. But I know this: My fate is tied to that bar the way horses were most likely tethered to a hitch outside when the bar first opened. I may not live a block and half from it anymore, but I still plan on visiting The Homestead regularly. I mean, if I’m not there to make a fool out of myself at 1:45am who will be? Hopefully you.
2301 Folsom Street, 415-282-4663
Stuart Schuffman has been called "an Underground legend" by the SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero" by the SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap" by Time Out New York. He is also the host for the IFC travel show Young, Broke & Beautiful. Follow him @BrokeAssStuart.