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Bars where Pete has had a Drink (3,264 bars; 1,492 bars in Seattle):

Bars where Pete has had a drink

Saturday, November 23, 2013

#2102 - Jonell's, San Francisco - 3/4/2013

On one of the rougher corners in the Tenderloin, I enter Jonell's, a bar named for the intersecting streets Jones and Ellis. Bonnie, the middle-aged Korean bartender, serves up a gin and tonic and chats with me from behind the central horseshoe-shaped bar, the ceiling swooping down to echo its shape, and decades of wear obvious in the formica bar top and the red leather sides. The place obviously had a different sort of character many years ago, with a horse racing theme and named, I would later find out, The Horseshoe. Now Bonnie, the bartender told me that she was watching the place while Jennie the owner was busy. Bonnie and Jennie are old friends from Korea. "I get done at Safeway, wait here, we go together, we good friends, we [she bumps her hands together]."

Bonnie says the bar has been around 100 years, but Jennie's owned it for about ten. The past few years have been more difficult, and she seems to be opening later every few days. Bonnie explains that liquor prices "high, high, high -- go up, up, up."

I hope she does well. From some of the reviews I ran across, Jennie seems like a pretty sassy lady. I always have high hopes for a bar with this much age and character; you can't help but feel that even stronger when the place is run by a couple plucky, middle-aged, immigrant ladies, unflinchingly handling the the junkies, dealers, and characters of these parts.




401 Ellis St, San Francisco, CA 94102 - (415) 776-8345
Previous bars in this location: The Horseshoe
Reviews: sfweekly - sfexperiment - instantcity - yelp

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