The bar at Topsy’s. Photo courtesy of Steve Schefsky.
The harlequin-patterned walls. Photo courtesy of Steve Schefsky.
Opening tonight in the former OZ on Kearny (next to Rickhouse) is ~TOPSY’S FUN HOUSE~, a new bar from the owners of Playland on Polk (Angela Bisesi and Steve Schefsky). Anyone who knows SF history will note the place is an homage to Topsy’s Roost, an absolutely bonkers restaurant and dance club that used to be at Playland at-the-Beach: the multilevel space had people eating in chicken “roosts and coops” and riding slides to the dance floor in the center of the room. Yes, it was fricking amazing.
This bar is on the smaller side, with room for 25 at a bar, some high-top tables in the front, and some lounge seating as well. There’s also a downstairs, which will eventually be a place for dancing. Designer Michael Brennan says the look is circus-inspired, with harlequin-patterned walls, carnival lights behind the bar, a tin ceiling, and if you look up in the rafters, you’ll see a clown’s apartment, with a dressing room and storage area (don’t go up there).
The space also has a kitchen, which will be opening soon (and will be open late). They will serve classic SF dishes, like crab Louie and It’s-Its (which originated at Playland at-the-Beach), and in the spirit of Topsy’s Roost, there will be chicken and waffles. Since one of the partners is Russian, there will also be blini with smoked salmon, caviar, and more.
Another interesting component: they have a brewery license, and they have plans to brew a boutique beer line called Fog Hog Brewhouse. I caught up with brewer Jessica Lehr, who has been a home brewer the past three years and has done some commercial work around the city. She said there will be two draft lines: a dark lager, which she says is full and rich in flavor but has a light drinkability, and a California poppy saison—her take on a French farmouse pale ale—using barley and fresh California hops. Here’s the cool thing: part of the water she uses for brewing is fog harvested! She explains that she has some nets up on a farm north of SF that resemble volleyball nets that collect fog condensation in buckets, which she uses in the brewing water! (Karl the Fog would definitely approve.) The draft lines should be open in April! Hours for now are 4pm-2am (weekend hours may change a bit). 260 Kearny St. at Bush.