The Mission Street Irish cocktail bar Casements recently got permission to keep their back patio open, but only until 10 pm. On Tuesday, the SF Board of Supervisors extended their patio hours until 11 pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends, though with a lot of requirements.

The modern Irish cocktail bar Casements opened in January 2020, which was right before the COVID-pocalypse devastated the SF bar scene. But Casements turned their back patio into a lovely Shared Space rear parklet under the old Shared Spaces program. The Shared Spaces rules expired on March 31, 2023, so Casements got Planning Commission approval on January 25 of this year to keep using their outdoor back patio for music, and as a gathering place for their guests.

The problem? The Planning Commission also gave Casements a strict 10 pm cut-off time on use of the back patio. And bars make their money after 10 pm, not before. As seen below, Casements saw a substantial drop in revenue after that 10 pm cut-off was implemented, including a 66.9% reduction in sales on Fridays and Saturdays after 10 pm. They also had to cut several employees’ shifts.

Image: Casements appeal graphic via SFGovTV

“We have seen a crippling decline in business,” Casements co-owner Sean O'Donovan told the SF Board of Supervisors.

So Casements appealed their case to the supervisors Tuesday. And the supervisors unanimously sided with Casements in the appeal, allowing them to use the outdoor back patio until 11 pm Sundays through Thursdays, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Image: Casements appeal graphic via SFGovTV

Casements agreed to not play amplified music after 10 pm out back on any night, even the weekends. And the supervisors also forced Casements to agree to a series of soundproofing requirements, with the right to revoke the authorizations if Casements did not comply.

“We will not have any music of any sort outside after 10 pm,” O'Donovan vowed. “Even if guests are permitted to sit outside after that time.”

The Irish bar had a couple dozen public commenters who showed up to speak in their favor, while there were about a half-dozen neighborhood residents who spoke against granting Casements their appeal.

Image via SFGovTV

And yes, that is Juanita MORE! speaking in support of Casements getting its back patio hours extended. She noted the numerous nonprofit fundraiser events she’s held there in recent years, saying, “That is with the generous help of owners like these and a space like this.”

Others spoke against Casements’ appeal. SF Planning Department representative Aaron Starr defended his commission’s 10 pm cut-off for the Casements patio, explaining that “Its proximity to residential units justified the restriction.”

Local residents also spoke up defending the 10 pm restriction. “Other bars in the neighborhood, Dr. Teeth which is on the same block, has a 10 pm closing time on their outdoor patio,” one pointed out. “In addition to Bender’s, which is right around the corner.”

Image: Casements appeal graphic via SFGovTV

But Casements successfully argued that the noise is not coming from them, though instead from the very blighted Mission Street parking lot next to them in the hollowed-out remains of the El Capitan Theater.

“Casements is not the source of a great deal of the music that seems to come from our direction. This parking lot has, since lockdown times, become a favorite party spot for many rowdy groups that often blast out amplified music at all hours,” O’Donovan said. “Unfortunately, the behavior of others in the parking lot is beyond our control, yet we have received the blame.”

Supervisor Hillary Ronen, in whose district Casements sits, was the only supervisor to speak before the vote.

“I believe that Casements’ owners and management, who we heard from today, have consistently shown that they intend to operate in good faith and are trusted community partners,” Ronen said Tuesday.

But she also added a number of requirements and “sound mitigation strategies” for Casements to start using the back patio for those extended evening hours. These requirements include:

  • Increasing the height of their wall
  • Installing “sound dampening materials”
  • Adjust their sound system to limit sound “that’s audible to the neighbors”

Casements may be able to expand to the extended patio hours right away, though this is unclear. SFNews has reached out to Casements for clarification on their plans.

But Ronen’s amendments to the authorization required that Casements file all applications to make these changes by July 1, 2024, and install the required equipment by January 1, 2025. If they don’t meet those requirements, Ronen said Casements’ authorization would revert back to the 10 pm cut-off.

This post has been updated with additional information from Tuesday’s SF Board of Supervisors meeting.

Related: Mission District Bar Casements Can Continue Rocking Live Music on Back Patio After City Hall Gives OK [SFNews]

Image: Joe Kukura, SFNews