Recently the building at 714-716 Monterey Blvd was put on the market. It’s a good moment to recall one tenant of the commercial space there, O’Donoghue’s Pub. Opened in 1986, it closed about 2000, and was run by Bridget and Patrick O’Donoghue. [Update 2020: The building sold to a new owner and is being used as a private residence.]
The bar was featured in the San Francisco Examiner the week after it opened.
Owner Patrick O’Donoghue, a carpenter, was quoted in the piece: “Since we’ve opened, the place has been packed….We’re getting people from the neighborhood and old-timers from the Mission, the ones who used to go down to Ireland’s 32, the Irish places that are gone now….There’s an O’Donoghue’s in Ireland that’s been very successful and another one in New York that’s well-known. I hope this one is just as successful.”
The reporter, Edvins Beitiks–who also lived in the area–also records some local oral history, in the person of an old-timer, Jim Grigg (1922-2001). Grigg had lived in Sunnyside since 1942 on Phelan Ave (now Frida Kahlo Way). He recalled previous businesses here, such as Fred’s Cafe [1938-1960] and The Road Runner [1968-1980s].
“I’ve seen about eight owners in this place…the guy who owned it before was lucky if he sold three drinks a day. You made any noise and he’d say, ‘Knock it off, I’m watching TV.'”
Grigg recounted other local history tidbits. “Ridgewood, right up the street, used to be called Hamburg, but they changed the name during World War II.” (Actually the name was changed by the City long before the War, in 1927.*) “And Monterey used to be Sunnyside.” [Read more about Sunnyside street-name changes.]
Grigg was raised in the Mission, and remembered when the county jail was located where City College is now, even though it was gone by the time he moved to Sunnyside.
The reporter goes on to describe the scene:
“Through the open doors and the glass-brick front of O’Donoghue’s, the evening sky was framed by Big Joe’s Broiler #2, the silvered dome of City College and the roundness of San Bruno Mountain beyond….
“Grigg said it’s good to have a neighborhood bar to turn to. He rubbed Katy O’Hara’s ears [his Scottish Terrier] and said, ‘I tell my wife I’m going to take Katy for a walk and she says OK and we walk over here. After a marriage of 42 years, you can take liberties like that,’ said Grigg, smiling and raising his glass. ‘I’ve had a lot of good times in this joint.'”
It was another era, for journalism and neighborhood bars.
* Name change to Ridgewood Avenue first recorded in “Business of City Fathers at a Glance,” SF Chronicle, 23 Aug 1927, p13.