House of Shields
I stopped into the newly, and beautifully, refurbished House of Shields yesterday as they were preparing to open for the day (their hours are 3 pm to 2 am). In a city that continues to romance the ideas of drinking in ye olden days, hinting at Prohibition and the Barbary Coast eras, donning pageboy caps and the lot, the House of Shields is the real thing.
The fine old House of Shields happens to be next door to my gym on New Montgomery, so I've been watching the progression of its rebirth from the outside: The original sign has been refurbished and the exterior has gotten a paint job. But today, chef-owner Dennis Leary (of the Sentinel next door, as well as the new Golden West) was standing at the door with some of guys in charge of all the hard labor and he let me take a peak.
It looked a little bit like a church in there this afternoon, all gorgeous wood aglow, now that it's been stripped and refinished. It was also dark, barring a shaft of light coming from the high windows, the sun illuminating the construction site's dust.
I stopped by the House of Shields (39 New Montgomery St.) to get a quick peek inside yesterday. Chef Dennis Leary of The Sentinel and Canteen—who is turning the turn-of-the-century H.O.S. back to its former glory and reopening it as a bar with light bites of food—told me they're months away from opening, while pointing out a ceiling fan opaque with dust. "They operated this place like that!" he said in disbelieve.
I've been hearing about the difficulties at the House of Shields for some time now. As reported in SFEater a couple of days ago: "The historic bar's lease runs out in June and word on the street is that at this point in time, the landlord has no intention of renewing it, meaning the current team is definitely out. This development, of course, leaves the bar's future very much in flux. "
The scuttle I've heard is that the owner isn't even sure if he wants to continue having a bar there and is tired of owning a dive that is swarmed by bike messengers. Personally, I'm not sure what the problem with bike messengers is, but this is what I've heard.