Castro Bars Get Facelift

By Matt Baume
|  Saturday, Apr 9, 2011  |  Updated 7:35 AM PDT
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Castro Bars Get Facelift

Getty Images/Zoran Milich

Longtime institutions are bucking tradition and relaunching.

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Everything that's old is new again in the city's LGBT hotspots, with a wave of renovations freshening up formerly-stale bars and clubs.

Longtime institutions like Chaps II are bucking tradition and relaunching. Chaps II, descendant of the old Chaps bar that eventually became the DNA lounge, recently shut its doors for a quick renovation and rebranding as Kok Bar. An April 1 grand re-opening drew large crowds with the slogan "darker, durrtier, cruisier."

A high-profile newcomer just opened at the corner of Market and Octavia: Rebel is a restaurant by day and a club by night. An after-hours permit allows them to keep the music playing all night and into the next day. It's like the End Up, but closer to the Castro.

Other bars in the Castro have updated as well. The Cafe recently expanded its floorplan and built an entire new wing. Toad Hall completed its transformation from the shuttered Pendulum. Trigger and Blackbird are putting forward new faces as well.

In part, the changes are a response to a changing demographic. The SOMA leather scene is growing more diverse than it once was, so leather bars like Chaps II have had to keep with the times by appealing to a more general down-and-dirty SOMA crowd.

Even historians are getting into the act, with a brand new freshly-created GLBT Histor Museum in the Castro.

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