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Olde English pub in San Francisco area calls closing time after 57 years


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© Reuters. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Berkeley, California

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(Reuters) – An Olde English pub that once hosted poets and intellectuals of San Francisco’s free speech movement will shut down for good this month, with hopes of bringing the same spirit elsewhere after the pandemic.

The Albatross Pub in Berkeley, founded in 1964 at the height of Beatlemania, has been unable to open since March. Without an outdoor space or a kitchen, the Albatross – a popular haunt with students and professors from the nearby university – has had to stay shut under local COVID-19 restrictions.

“You know it’s not just a pub, it’s not just a bar. A pub is short for public house. It’s where people came to hang out and talk,” said co-owner Andrew McGee, 52, who started working there as a doorman in 2004 and then as a bartender.

The situation had become financially untenable, he said.

Regulars loved the pub’s laidback atmosphere, curated draft beer with free refills, pool table, dart boards, fireplace, live music and a wildly popular quiz night on Sundays. Even dogs were welcome on a leash.

“I think I got to see the best of Berkeley and the best of this city,” said Liam Curley, 30, who began hosting the quiz in 2016.

Memorabilia such as framed photos of regulars dating back to 1967, a 1965 jazz concert poster, and a telephone booth converted into a popcorn maker will go into storage to hopefully re-emerge one day, McGee said.

“I’ll miss this physical space, everybody will. If we’re lucky enough to find a space with a little bit of soul, we’ll be able to bring the spirit there.”

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