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When I and thou were young

Photograph of Solstice by Daniel Bahmani


It’s last call for Solstice Lounge.

After a successful 10-year run, the neighborhood favorite at 2801 California and Divisadero will be closing its doors for good on Saturday, March 2. The landlord, who also owns Rasselas and Sheba Piano Lounge on Fillmore Street, proposed to raise the monthly rent by several thousand dollars. Despite being a successful Pacific Heights fixture, Solstice would have to sell many more raspberry mojitos and Kobe beef sliders to cover the rent hike. Consequently, Matt Sturm and Leslie Shirah, who also own the Fly Bars on Divisadero and Sutter Streets, have decided to shutter Solstice.

For me personally, Solstice’s closing marks the end of an era. I moved to the neighborhood at the same time the restaurant and bar opened. I was in my mid-20s. City life was exciting and new. My friends and I were all young and carefree. Solstice immediately became our social nucleus. We would meet at the bar weekly without worrying about curfews, spouses or babysitters. We would go there on first dates, blind dates or last dates. Most of the time, we were just trying to find dates.

Over a decade, I’ve witnessed a lot from Solstice’s barstools. I have watched Barack Obama win the presidency (twice), the Giants win the World Series (twice), and the 49ers advance to the Super Bowl. I’ve celebrated New Year’s Eve, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, engagement parties and going-away parties. I’ve seen co-workers become lovers, and then husband and wife, and eventually parents. 

Alas, all good parties must come to an end. I’m in my mid-30s now. My friends and I are not the same crazy kids we were a decade ago. We’ve become adults with grown-up responsibilities. Many left the neighborhood to answer a suburban calling. Some have families and mortgages, not to mention thinner hairlines and larger waistlines. 

However, once the news broke about Solstice’s imminent closing, a very interesting thing occurred. Old friends suddenly came out of the woodwork and expressed a desire to revisit the bar for one last round. They wanted to say goodbye to a loved one before they moved away for good.  

Upon further reflection, I realize that saying goodbye to Solstice requires less a farewell note than a love letter — a celebration of life, if you will. It’s a reminder that for a brief period in time we were young and alive, and Solstice was where we came to eat, drink and recreate. It was where we came to toast our triumphs and drown our sorrows, and everything in between. Those good times can never be erased. But the time has come for new business owners to take over the space, and for the next generation of customers to come in and create their own memories.

I want to thank Solstice for all the memories — and the occasional hangovers. Although you’ll soon be gone, you’ll never be forgotten.

EARLIER: Six blocks of separation