Polk Gulch Queer Icon Set For Massive Overhaul

To save the legendary Grubstake Diner, it will have to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Rendering from design firm Kerman Morris
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Legendary Polk Gulch restaurant Grubstake Diner is set to be demolished and rebuilt as part of an eight-story mixed-use building with 21 housing units.

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Six years since building owner Jimmy Consos first proposed the overhaul in an attempt to “make the salvaging of this historic LGBTQ+-friendly venue financially feasible,” and the plan has finally won Planning Commission approval, giving Consos the greenlight to move ahead with the historic reconstruction.

Grubstake has been an icon in the San Francisco queer community for over 80 years. Beginning as a “lunch wagon” in the early 20th century, the small rail-car-turned-diner quickly became a staple of the neighborhood. When the diner moved to its current location at 1525 Pine Street in 1967, it quickly became synonymous with Polk Gulch’s thriving queer scene thanks to its late hours and welcoming atmosphere.

Now, in age where traditionally queer spaces such as It’s Tops and Sparky’s Diner have been forced to shutter thanks to an increasingly volatile economy, the specter of closure has been haunting Grubstake for years, leaving patrons uncertain about the future of their favorite diner.

Thankfully, the new project is set to completely revitalize the area while still maintaining Grubstake’s unique, old-school charm. The new plan will completely demolish the current building and rebuild it as the first floor of an 83-foot-tall, multi-use residential building.

While some have expressed concern about how these developments could affect the integrity of the Polk Gulch icon, Consos made sure to assuage those fears – going as far as assembling over 70 LGBTQ+ community leaders to endorse the plans to rescue Grubstake. According to their petition, Consos consulted with community leaders “to assist him with plans for this project with the goals to keep Grubstake Diner a safe haven and welcoming space for the LGBTQ+ community and nightlife industry,” as well as preserving “the historic ephemera and architectural elements of Grubstake Diner”.

Now that the Planning Commission has officially given the green light on the new development, nervous patrons can rest easy knowing their favorite diner/nightclub/home-away-from-home will soon be back and stronger than ever. While development is still very early into the planning phase (Planning Commission approval was only granted July 22nd), residents are relieved to know that Grubstake Diner has been left in good hands.

Jake Rogers

Jake Rogers is an author and playwright based out of Brooklyn, New York. A lively performer who is deeply passionate about history and literature, outside of his reporting he also produces short films and plays with his theatre troupe, the LSTC. He is currently producing a web series about a butterfly and moth who are roommates that will be released later in the year.
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