Latest news

The End Game

October 19th, 2007

Hello, friends, and once again thank you for your time, persistence and efforts on behalf of the Barleycorn. In the final week, we have a last “Hail Mary” in the air: members of the Barleycorn Coalition met with Mayor Newsom's staff in the hopes of having the mayor contact Luisa Hanson. As the closure of the Barleycorn has ripple effects throughout the local economy, and it is of value to the entire city, we hope that he will intercede and speak for the thousands who signed the Open Letter to Luisa demanding that the Barleycorn stay open.

Feel free to call the mayor's office yourself and request that he act in the best interests of this neighborhood and the city. Telephone: 554-6141; e-mail:

Otherwise, we will deliver every Open Letter petition and personal letter to Luisa's restaurant early next week. The last night at the Barleycorn is Friday, October 26. Stay tuned to this site for any late-breaking developments, and for news of life after the Barleycorn!

Bay Guardian covers the Barleycorn

October 17th, 2007

“An unscrupulous entrepreneur targets a Nob Hill institution” writes San Francisco Bay Guardian reporter Molly Freedenberg in this excellent story on the Barleycorn's plight.

Great Pub Toast a Success

October 2nd, 2007

Patrons at a dozen of The City's great pubs paused September 25th to toast “John Barleycorn and the Great Pubs of San Francisco,” an event sponsored by the John Barleycorn Coalition (see list of participating pubs below).

“The Toast was designed to celebrate the communities that are built around and sustained by our great neighborhood pubs, as well as to highlight the campaign to save the Barleycorn,” says Tony Antico, John Barleycorn Coalition Coordinator. “We hope to make the Toast an annual event. These establishments preserve a little of San Francisco's history and tradition, and a show of support may help prevent another pub from being pointlessly evicted, as is the case with the John Barleycorn.”

The John Barleycorn Pub is scheduled to shutter its doors on or about October 25th, although supporters are hoping that the recent passage of a citywide proclamation honoring the Barleycorn and appealing for its preservation will help convince new owner Luisa Hanson to extend its lease. The Coalition has collected more than 4,000 signatures on an open letter to Ms. Hanson protesting the pub's closure.

Great Pub Toast Update

September 21st, 2007

Here are the pubs currently participating in the Great Pub Toast (see previous news below):

Be sure to wear your Save the Barleycorn T-shirt if you attend the Toast at any of these venues!

Campaign to Save the Barleycorn Enters Final Month

September 18th, 2007

With nearly 4,000 signatures in hand, and the continuing support of the neighborhood and business associations in the Lower Polk/Nob Hill areas, the John Barleycorn Coalition has done very well in building the context of public pressure to keep this community institution alive. Since August, the campaign has focused on reaching out to friends and business associates of Luisa Hanson, the new landlord, in an attempt to pass along our doubts about the economic viability of her business plan of closing the Barleycorn.

These efforts are ongoing, but the campaign now re-enters the public arena with two special events. Tuesday, September 18th, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on a City Proclamation honoring the Barleycorn and calling for its preservation. The proclamation will then be forwarded to Mayor Newsom, and we hope he will join in the chorus of support for the pub.

To help publicize the passage of the proclamation, and to celebrate the role that pubs play in the community and cultural life of the city, especially its neighborhoods, the Barleycorn Coalition is also sponsoring the 1st Annual Great San Francisco Pub Toast.

On Tuesday, September 25th, at 7pm, patrons at pubs throughout downtown, Nob Hill and North Beach will pause and drink a toast to “John Barleycorn and the Great Pubs of San Francisco.” More details on the toast will follow, including a list of participating pubs, which will be posted by the end of the week.

What You Can Do:

July 4th BBQ

June 26, 2007

The Barleycorn is happy to announce that its July 4th barbeque is on! Doors open at 12 noon. While this is not a Barleycorn Coalition campaign event, members of the Coalition will be present to help stage the event and provide information about this summer's activities. If you are signed up as a volunteer and would like to help set-up, grill, hawk t-shirts or otherwise help out, please send an e-mail to or leave a message at (415) 673-2919.

In other news, our open letter/petition asking Luisa Hanson to keep the Barleycorn open has exceeded 3,000 signatures, and our website just surpassed 10,000 hits. We have also gained the formal support of our two local neighborhood groups, the Middle Polk Neighborhood Association and Lower Polk Neighbors. The Coalition is finalizing plans for several events between mid-July and early August, so check back frequently for more news; notices will also be posted at the bar.

Good News!

May 16, 2007

The owner of the Barleycorn has found and executed a 3-month extension of the lease, so the Barleycorn will be around until roughly the end of September.

Community Rallies Behind the Barleycorn

May 16, 2007

Our rally on Saturday, May 12th, was a rousing success, attended by hundreds of neighbors and supporters. They enjoyed mesquite-barbequed chicken, a chance to explore a 1907 original cable car, the opportunity to chat informally with Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and the music of local artists Top Critters, with bluesman Jake Flood and drummer Dave Leonard sitting in ( Video clips of the event will be posted later in the week.

BBQ at the Barleycorn

May 8, 2007

The John Barleycorn Coalition is hosting a free BBQ at the pub this Saturday, May 12th, from 1 to 5pm. There will be live music, an authentic cable car and an appearance by Supervisor Aaron Peskin. Come and help us “Celebrate the Community,” and rally support for the saving the Barleycorn!

If you will like to volunteer and help staff this event, please contact us at If you are already a volunteer and planning on attending, please remember to wear your “Save the Barleycorn” T-shirt. Volunteers are asked to arrive at 12 noon.

Picketing Luisa's

April 29, 2007

Supporters of the 'Corn picketed Luisa's Italian Restaurant on April 24. A QuickTime version is available here (Quicktime 7 required).

We're Looking For A Few Good Protestors

April 17, 2007

Help us picket Luisa's Restaurant on Tuesday, April 24th, from 6 pm to 9pm.

As an informational protest, we aim to publicize that Luisa Hanson is closing the Barleycorn. We do not intend to interfere with the business at Luisa's Restaurant.

We will suppy all signs, transportation to and from the Barleycorn, and a free "Save The Barleycorn" t-shirt to volunteers. We are also looking for volunteers to help staff a sidewalk event at the Barleycorn, and for additional picketing in May.

To sign up, either send an email to or leave a message at 673-2919.

Online Store Now Open

April 9, 2007

Our online store is now open for business! Show your support and get your Save The John Barleycorn t-shirts, mugs, bags, stickers, and bibs (yes, really) today.

Click here to visit the Save The John Barleycorn store.

SF Appreciation Society Highlights

April 5, 2007

Watch highlights from the S.F. Appreciation Society's Celebration of the Barleycorn. A QuickTime version is available here (Quicktime 7 required).

SF Appreciation Society Lights Up the Barleycorn

March 9, 2007

The Barleycorn played host to the Appreciation Society, a group of San Franciscans who celebrate the city's history, Thursday, March 8th. The event featured readings from the works of our famous writers such as Jack London, Frank Norris and Dashiell Hammett, as well as a recital of the Robert Burns poem, John Barleycorn, by the poet laureate of San Francisco, Jack Hirschman.

To cap the evening, the Barleycorn's owner, Larry Ayre, was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Society, and Supervisor Aaron Peskin chipped in with some kind words for the pub and the rich history of the city. Other notables in attendance were the bar's founder, Sam Duvall, and former Mayor Willie Brown.

Printer Needed

March 2, 2007

We're looking for a printer to help us with production of various items, such as posters, fliers, door hangers, business cards, and t-shirts.

If you can donate paper, ink, shirts, time, or all of the above, please contact us as soon as possible at


February 23, 2007

The Coalition continues to grow and gain momentum as we close in on 1,500 names on our open letter/petition and list of volunteers, in addition to expanding support in the business community, both locally and citywide. Please continue to ask friends to sign up, as this is a great demonstration of the power of word of mouth that has served the Barleycorn so well, and holds implications for replacement businesses for it and the Front Room.

And for those of you that have signed up as volunteers, expect to be contacted in the coming weeks. We are actively planning an event to celebrate the community of Lower Nob Hill and the Barleycorn. Volunteers will be asked to help publicize the event, and help staff it.

Lots of Support

February 9, 2007

Mister SF, aka Hank Donat, has spotlighted the Save the Barleycorn campaign on his website, Hank is the author of “An Insider's Guide to San Francisco,” and his website contains many features about San Francisco, from its literary and cinematic history to the best vistas around town and much more. Have you ever wondered how your street got its name? Check out Mr. SF for the answer.

Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has signed our open letter/petition—the number of signatures has just topped 1,000, with 21 number of states represented as well 13 countries. Please continue to tell your friends, as every signature helps. Members of the John Barleycorn Coalition recently met with city officials—who have indicated their support and are investigating ways to assist us—and without your support, that meeting would have been more difficult to arrange.

In fact, if you know a small business owner or landlord in the vicinity, please let us know by using the “contact” link below. We are signing up the support of these businesses and property owners separately, for maximum effectiveness. We are also seeking the support of property or business owners across the city, depending on location and nature of the business. For example, any such owners who are in the restaurant business, or perhaps are located near any of Ms. Hanson's previous ventures, should contact us immediately.

The Front Room Leaves

January 23, 2007

The Front Room, our neighbor and friend for nearly forty years, has found a new location just a few doors away at 1550 California Street. While we are sorry to see them go, we are thrilled that they will remain in the neighborhood. And since their lease expires in March—the Barleycorn has until June—they really didn't have the option of holding out for very long.

What this means for the Barleycorn: outside of a new neighbor next door, very little changes in the message of our campaign. We have always been concerned primarily that removing these two small, individually owned businesses is not sound economically and thus bad for the neighborhood. The fact that Front Room is still in the neighborhood is terrific, but losing the Barleycorn is still horrific, and will affect the viability of any business at both locations.

Volunteers Meetings

January 23, 2007

We are happy to report that simply through word-of-mouth, the number of signatures on our open letter/petition has reached 600! At present, the only way to sign up is to visit the Barleycorn or this website. In a few weeks, we will be able to canvass the neighborhood door-to-door, and that will add greatly to our total.

Many who have signed the petition have also enlisted as volunteers, and to introduce these kind folks to the campaign, we will hold volunteer meetings every Tuesday night at the Barleycorn at 7:30 pm, beginning this Tuesday, Jan. 30th. Tony, our campaign coordinator, will contact volunteers in groups of 10-15. Volunteers will be given an overview of the campaign and its timeframe, as well as a chance to ask questions, make suggestions, indicate their preference for campaign activities, and just soak up the Barleycorn atmosphere with other fans.

The Campaign Begins!

December 22, 2006

The John Barleycorn Coalition is circulating an open letter style petition to send to the new owner, Luisa Hanson, and concerned city officials. We will begin holding campaign events—briefings, letterwriting parties, and other organizing activities—in January, 2007.

The campaign is based on the special nature of the Barleycorn: its historic look and feel, reminiscent of old San Francisco; its role as a community center; its history of involvement in the neighborhood of Lower Nob Hill; the risky economic prospects for replacing these businesses; and the appetite of the neighborhood and the city at large for allowing yet another large business concern to displace small, individual owners.

Check back for stories of the Barleycorn, progress on our open letter/petition, new features, and other news!