After three decades of operation, technically all-the-while illegally under city codes, a sober gathering space in San Francisco’s gay Castro district has won legal status.
At their meeting Thursday, February 7 planning commissioners voted to change the zoning of the 1901 Edwardian at 4058 18th Street in order to make the Castro Country Club a conforming use of the residential building. The decision comes as the club prepares to celebrate its 30th anniversary with a “huge neighborhood celebration” Sunday, April 21.
The oversight panel also voted to approve a new eatery that will be built in the current garage space. Billed as “The Castro Sausage Grill,” the new restaurant may in fact be a different type of dining establishment when it opens, a source said this week.
“It’s a nice feeling to be legal, even though until recently I hadn’t realized we were not. We will be remodeling CCC concurrent with building retrofit and build out of unknown restaurant,” Terry Beswick, the club’s manager, told the Bay Area Reporter in an email.
George “Jorge” Maumer, who is in the process of liquidating his Superstar Video store nearby on Castro Street, bough the property in early 2012 reportedly for $1 million. He agreed to maintain the sober space as a tenant, as well as the tenants of an upstairs apartment in which Beswick lives, but also sought permission to operate the restaurant as a way to recoup his investment.
Maumer’s plan to sell alcohol in addition to food raised eyebrows at first but was not opposed by the country club or local officials as there are already bars and restaurants doors away from the sober space.
According to a planning staff report on the project, the “locally-owned” restaurant will not be a chain. It will be housed in a roughly 1,985 square foot ground floor space with an outdoor dining area.
The proposed hours of operation are 11 am. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.
Work is also planned to remodel parts of the house where the sober space is located, including replacing a rear stairway with a spiral staircase and a new roof-top deck area in back. According to an email the country club sent out earlier this week, the construction work should not interfere with the numerous meetings and other activities held at the space.
Club management did state they expect there will be “some inconvenience when work gets underway, [but] we do not anticipate having to stop club operations and will do our best to keep all patrons well-informed of the plans and progress. Our goal is to make the club more suitable to our community’s needs and we are confident that when work is complete we will be better than ever.”
The February 4 email also disclosed that the club, which signed an agreement to have the San Francisco AIDS Foundation be its fiscal sponsor but is solely responsible for its finances, in 2012 had its “most successful to date” year-end donor drive. Close to $7,000 was raised in December, a total 50 percent higher than similar giving campaigns the previous two years.
In his email to the B.A.R. yesterday, Beswick wrote, “We’re just glad the CCC is surviving and thriving, thanks to support from the community and landlord, and we’re excited about the future. The CCC will be better than ever.”