San Franciscans call Harvey’s closure a ‘huge loss’ for the gayborhood

A street view of Harvey's from the rainbow crosswalk in San Francisco's Castro District. Photo via Facebook
A street view of Harvey’s from the rainbow crosswalk in San Francisco’s Castro District. Photo via Facebook

San Francisco residents say it’s the end of an era. Last Sunday, with very little notice, Harvey’s announced its closure with a handwritten sign on the door that read: “This is our last day being open. What is next? We don’t know, but we know we will miss all of you.”

Named after San Francisco’s first openly gay politician Harvey Milk, Harvey’s was a go-to restaurant located in the heart of the Castro District. It was known for its casual atmosphere, all-American menu, and a full bar offering “adult” drinks. A popular spot for locals and visitors alike, it often hosted drag shows and live music events. Though for many, Harvey’s was more than a gay bar, it was a symbol of San Francisco’s queer cultural legacy, a safe haven that helped define the gayborhood.

In the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, many historic LGBTQ+ businesses found it difficult to operate and faced closure, including The Exit Theater, The PianoFight, The Castro Theater, SF Eagle, and now Harvey’s. Though the community is not giving up without a fight. The Castro Theater created a petition to help guarantee its preservation. In a similar vein, SF Eagle was designated as a historic landmark, the first leather bar in the world to receive such status, in order to keep the venue within the LGBTQ+ community.

Harvey’s closure comes on the heels of the loss of Badlands, another popular gay hangout in the Castro. Some residents are fed up with the news, asking city officials to do more to save the gayborhood in the face of San Francisco’s rapidly changing cultural landscape.

Here’s what the community is saying: