Monday, July 12, 2010

Shotwell's: My Bar.

My very good friend Carla, of Hoperatives fame, came to visit me in June of last year. At the time, Hoperatives was only six or seven months into their launch, and she was still trying to come up with regular features that guest writers could contribute to. The one she pushed to me - and the one that, unfortunately, it took me a whole year to come around to - was a feature on describing "your" bar. It is incredibly appropriate that she introduced this idea to me on the day I took her to Shotwell's.

You see, Shotwell's is my bar. It is a lovely bar full of really exciting history. It's owned by my friends David and Tom, and if you're ever in the San Francisco area, I highly suggest you stop by so you can hear their actual stories. They've owned the bar for about four years. It's named Shotwell's now, but prior to this, they had named it Inner Mission Beer Parlor. That was its name when I came to know it. Prior to that, with the previous owners, it was Two Thieves, and before that, it was Shotwell 59. (Shotwell 59 being the original exchange number for the neighborhood, for those of you who remember how phone numbers used to work years and years ago.)

I met Inner Mission Beer Parlor in November of 2008. I had moved to San Francisco three months earlier. I lived, at this point, around 20th & Valencia, where the bars within a stone's throw aren't worth much. (The Phoenix, I like you well enough, but you weren't what I was looking for.) Thanks to my good friend Yelp, who I have since broken up with, I was drawn to Inner Mission Beer Parlor. It was basically on my street and it sounded like the sort of place I might be willing to visit.

I definitely went a few times by myself, but the first visit that stands out to me was Thanksgiving week, 2008. My mother and my best friend were in town from Kansas, and I deeply wanted to see a particular Kansas basketball game. I took them to visit Inner Mission, and I asked the young man behind the counter if he would be willing to play this game for me a few days in the future. He reassured me that even though they only had two televisions, he would be happy to put it on when I came in and asked nicely. Lo and behold, when I returned at game time, he followed through.

This young man would turn out to be David Hall, who would later turn into one of my very closest friends. He would also turn out to be one of the two owners of the bar. He and his partner, Tom Madonna, will always be in my hearts as the first people in San Francisco who were legitimately kind to me.

Now, it's worth noting at this point that I will be guest bartending at their bar this Thursday. I was approached by Tom and David to take a guest bartending slot because they are interested in what I know about beer and they trust my abilities to talk to people about what they might be interested in. The funny part of all of this is that my love for craft beer really took off thanks to their bar.

I knew I liked beer. I knew I had a few preferences here or there. I knew I didn't have any friends, because I moved to this city sort of blindly. But sure enough, after a few visits, they knew my face. Soon after, they knew my name. I took the opportunity, through their bar, to try every beer they had. (We'll discuss my beer taste progression at a later date.) I tried Belgians. I tried whites, I tried darks, I tried hoppy, I tried amber. I tried all of it. And as soon as I had an introduction from them, I hit the ground running to suck up all of the knowledge I could in this world.

It was to my delight when, about a year and a half into making friends with this bar,Tom and David came to me and asked me for some light advice on how to move forward with their beer selection. I've taken the opportunity to learn all I could about west coast beer over the past year and a half, so I was more than happy to give them some advice on their list. The things I've learned from them, and the process they've gone through to get that lovely little bar to where it is today, will be featured in a post coming up very soon.

I am proud to say that Tom and David are two of my very favorite friends in this city. The bar became re-christened as Shotwell's a little over a year ago, and it will probably be "my bar" for as long as I live in this mixed up little place. Every person that walks into the bar is greeted with a smile. We are happy to see you. If you want a friend, we're probably happy to talk with you. I've met more people and had more interesting conversations with their patrons and friends than I have with anyone else in this city, and I get the feeling that's exactly what they wanted to happen.

Shotwell's has been a lovely little highlight of my life since coming here two years ago. Over the next couple of days, I'm delighted to share more of this tiny corner bar with you. It has held my happiness and sadness, my laughter and my tears. But most of all? It has held my friends, and it provided a jumping-off point for me to turn into the little craft beer nerd I am today.

No comments:

Post a Comment