Straight + gay = Stray Bar
Bernal sports bar boasts basketball, baseball, bargain beer
In San Francisco’s colorful Bernal Heights district, right down the street from Bernal Bubbles, Brian Rose (a flower atelier) and Red Hill Books, you’ll find Stray Bar, 309 Cortland Avenue. Lots of lesbians and gay guys go, but manager Jones Rivera says their name tells us they’re also trying to reach out to the straight community.
Rivera’s a handsome guy who’s been a bartender and managed a restaurant in Washington, DC along the way to Stray. He’s got a German language tattoo on his left arm that translates as “Every man for himself, and God against all.”
He tells us that the bar has been around since 1952. It’s gone through several names and owners, including Duval’s and Charlie’s. When it became Chaise Lounge, it became gay-and-lesbian-friendly, just like Wild Side West down the street, previously covered here. The present proprietor, Karen Opp, a lesbian, took over in June 2006. She wants to evolve the place into an LGBT-friendly sports bar, hence the words “Straight” and “Gay” merged into the title.
One of the first things you’ll see when you enter are the two 37″ flat-screen TVs atop the bar on your left, providing crisp color and great sound for 49ers, Giants an
Some of the Wednesday night crowd
at the Stray Bar. Photo: Rick Gerharter
d more. There’s a trivia machine at the bar’s front. To your right by the entrance are two comfy-looking easy chairs. There’s a banquette and some ottoman-style seating at the back right. In the smallish back room are a pinball machine and two dartboards.If you like draft beer, says Rivera, Happy Hour can be a really good deal for you. From opening til 8 p.m., you can get frosty tap drafts of Carlsberg or Anchor Steam for the bargain price of $2. Well drinks are just a dollar more.
There’s something to do here every night of the week, much centered around sports. Monday is football night. Fans can enjoy Happy Hour prices throughout the game and a free jukebox afterwards. Tuesday, you can get two drinks for the price of one on well drinks and drafts.
Wednesday is Ladies’ Night, a good time for visiting females to meet those buxom Bernal les-beauties. Thursday, it’s bingo for 50 cents a game, and the winner gets a free beer. Friday’s a special night for My Spacers. If you have Stray Bar listed as one of your top eight friends, you get a free drink. (Deadline is Noon Thursday, and Rivera will print it out.) Saturday focuses on college games and basketball. Sunday, as you might expect, is football day.
As befits a sports bar, Stray Bar fields two teams: a softball team and a soccer team named “Kismet,” “Fate” in English. The bar does its share of benefits and charitable events. They feature a drink of the night: $1 goes to the house, but the rest goes to a designated charity like Rocket Dog Rescue.
Recently, they held a fundraiser for a young lady terminally ill with cancer whose last wish was to go to South America. Rivera tells me with pride that several thousand dollars were raised.
There’s no food per se, but patrons are invited to bring their own. If need be, the bar will reconfigure the front room for either food or a private party. Once in a while, Rivera sends out for pizza, and one night, a Chicano woman came in and made tacos for everyone.
Sports of all sorts — gay, lesbian and straight — will find much to like at Stray Bar. With $2 for a draft Anchor or Carlsberg and a long Happy Hour, how can you go wrong?
309 Cortland Ave.
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