5-May-2015 (Tue) Wherein the Empire expands again.

Oops, I accidentally bought another nightclub.

We just signed a lease on 917 Folsom, formerly known as Covered Wagon Saloon (1989?-2002), Cherry Bar (2002-2005), Annie's Social Club (2006-2010), and most recently Qi Ultra Lounge (2012).

We're going to sort-of divide the space into two businesses: one of them will be a second location for DNA Pizza, and the the other will be a new nightclub that we're calling Codeword. (It's initials are CW, see what I did there?)

I say we're "sort of" dividing them because they will have separate storefronts but still be connected internally, just like we do at DNA Lounge and DNA Pizza on 11th Street.

That means we're converting it from a 21+ bar to an all-ages restaurant! This is getting to be a habit.

So, step one, build a kitchen. There's not one in there right now. We get the keys on June 1. I would not be so foolish as to predict an opening date, because there is just so much bureaucracy between now and then. It depends on how many people write nasty letters and how many times we hear sentences like, "Well, why don't we just push this back to next month's hearing".

See, we're directly across the street from a brand new, massive condo development. And there's a massive condo development about to go in right next door. Not to mention the three stories of the SRO directly upstairs, the CW Hotel.

Anyway, a second location for DNA Pizza means that when one location is busy, we can stage deliveries out of the other. Right now on busy nights we have to choose between serving slices in-house and making pies for delivery, and it slows down both. Also, the new location is a much better spot for lunch business than 11th Street is, and it's two blocks from Moscone Center.

The tentative plan is for the nightclub side of the business to be primarily a dance club, somewhere around 200 capacity. We may end up doing live music there too, but it's roughly the same size as Above DNA, so at least initially, we're going to focus on live music here, and dance parties over there. It'll act as an incubator for smaller dance parties that can eventually graduate to the big room at DNA.

We need someone to design us a logo for for Codeword. Is that you?

82 Responses:

  1. Tamber says:

    Revenge of Curse of the Sign?

    Hopefully this time around goes a little smoother; after all, you know what you're up against, now. Right? ...right?

    (Good luck.)

  2. Pavel says:

    I'm beginning to upgrade my suspicion that you're a masochist into a near-certainty.

  3. Geoff Smith says:

    Very cool. It's refreshing compared to the constant news I hear of venues being turned into condos. I put on a handful of Industrial shows there back when it was Annie's.

  4. I think this means we can call you a "Nightclub/Pizza Mogul" now. Or maybe Impresario.

  5. Ooh! A whole new barrage of bureaucrazy stories! :)

  6. Wow! Congratulations.

  7. Hopefully get a transvestite night in there ;)

  8. Brett Stillo says:

    I love that space! Thanks for saving it from probable extinction. Best of luck with the new venture!

  9. Congrats! That's such a great space. Glad it'll be put to good use again.

  10. So are you leveling up from Impresario to Mogul?

  11. Congrats on the new CW! It would be awesome to have another live music space with DJ nights! There are too many dance clubs IMHO. Not enough live music spots. Regardless, congrats!

  12. Uggh, new boxes. God help us.

  13. KngtRdr says:

    Nicely done... I like this incubator idea-r.

  14. Dan says:

    I don't know about a logo, but a sound and video system I can do!

  15. Rad and congrats. Re: the logo. Since I assume you'll eventually do some sort of three dimensional sign installation a la the DNA Lounge, maybe model it after a Turing machine dial

  16. Steve Indig says:

    faaaaaaantastic. you have my encouragement & support!

  17. Bill Paul says:

    I'm not sure what's worse: the pain and suffering of having to go a few more rounds with the SF bureaucracy over permits, or the pain and suffering of having an SRO right on top of you.

  18. グレェ says:

    I keep on imagining something referencing a dword, but I am guessing since the pre tag isn't support here, it will look wrong:


    I may spend too much time in disassemblers.

    You actually bought the place though? Congrats! I haven't been to a show there since it was Annie's, but that is where I first saw scrap.edx and I seem to recall a handful of other shows.

    Now excuse me while I try to remember where I left the scrap.edx vinyl with the track "Devastating Microphone Control" (which is a brutal d'n'b/breakcore mash-up of Salt-n-Pepa's Push It and some Run DMC IIRC).

  19. Bill Emmack says:

    Unless I'm mistaken, this club (Cherry Bar) was where Bootie got its start. (At least I'm pretty sure I attended my first Bootie there.)

  20. Tim Van Loan says:

    So awesome- glad there's a music hall that's opening instead of closing to get replaced by more condos

  21. Ian McKellar says:

    Nice! The Covered Wagon was the first SF bar I ever went into. I was in to for LinuxWorld 2000 and to interview at a long-ago dead startup and a friend from University said we should go to 1015 for dance music. They were closed so we walked down the block and I found the Covered Wagon with Stinky's Peep Show going on. My friend was weirded out but I thought "okay, this city might be strange enough for me".

  22. Alicia S says:

    Those saddle bar seats were great. Also, a fabulous roof terrace!

  23. Nice! Looking forward to it!
    Do you have a deadline for logo designs?

  24. wayne says:

    rnalounge.com. 604800 IN CNAME www.codeword-sf.com.

    Drops mic.

  25. Sandra Jobe says:

    Chis Shaw is your man for logo. Did the CW sign. Fantastic local artist.

  26. congrats and thank you! :)

  27. Jerome says:

    Bring back Stinky's Peepshow please!

  28. michael ferrell says:

    i can make you a logo if you like, i think im talking to mike x., let me know,msfsf336@gmail.com

  29. Thomas Wing says:

    You should complain about the near by tenants being too quiet and try to have them evicted.

  30. David john says:

    I think a black background with caps c.w and red c and white w period in the middle would be awesome I wouldn't charge for sketches but just my name would be grateful who design the sketch would be greatfull thanks let me know adapt so I can start on it

  31. Chris Garcia says:

    Qi Ultra Lounge had a very poor layout. No flow to it. Hopefully you guys can make this venue work.

  32. Mark Gervard says:

    The return of Lucifers Hammer! It's great you used the CW in honor of the late great "It's all we got in the 90's and 2000's to see s show." Covered Wagon"

  33. David john says:


  34. Jen says:

    Is this an open logo call? If so-details please!

  35. Interested in designing a logo. PM me with details please!

  36. Tony Ly says:


    Would love to design the new logo.

    Check out my link, http://www.teisbe-design.com



  37. Phil says:

    Congratulations! This is awesome for the city, and for you.

  38. Drea says:

    Wonderful news! Am an artist in the TL also down to designing a logo.
    My website is moonsquirrel.com and http://www.facebook.com/dreasArt
    Regardless I very much look forward to what comes.

  39. I tossed some ideas together, and if I can elaborate on this with a snazzy program I will sometime in the near future, but have a thing. Definitely needs more green.

  40. Cool! Congratulations.

  41. Jovi says:

    Congrats! Would love to design your logo - can promise unique style and great prices. I'm new to the Bay, would love to be part of something as cool as this out here. Hit me up: jovi@joylabco.com.

  42. nooj says:

    Are you not able to open right away in some form, and stay open through the transition?

    • jwz says:

      No, for a bunch of reasons.

      First of all, it's a little difficult to be open while the place is a work site building a kitchen. Very messy, and the work area is not isolated.

      Second, the liquor license we are getting is a 47 (an all ages bar-restaurant license) which requires service of food, which isn't possible without the as-yet-unbuilt kitchen, and which they won't approve until various inspections (Health, Fire, Building, others) are signed off on the completed kitchen.

      Third, even if we had a 48 (a 21+ bar license, no kitchen required) the bureaucrats wouldn't let us actually use it for months anyway. Yes, the place was open, but not under permits with my name on them, so have fun paying rent on an empty building for N months while this stack of papers sits in someone's inbox. Welcome to hell, here's your accordion!

      Fortunately this isn't our first rodeo, so we know what's coming and are able to start the clocks ticking in the right order. But it's always a game of hurry up and wait. The most frustrating part is always when we're just sitting there, ready to go, waiting to get 15 minutes of someone's time, but they won't even talk to us for 4-8 weeks. Ok, maybe that's not the most frustrating part, but it's pretty bad, because it's not even malicious, it's just dysfunctional.

      • Out of curiosity: if the CA-ABC weren't making up from whole cloth the requirement that you be a "bona fide food serving establishment" in order to get the 47 license, would you bother with the DNA Pizza expansion?

        • jwz says:

          When you pull on a single thread in these kind of time travel / alternate history hypotheticals, everything comes unravelled and nothing plays out the same. You end up with dirigibles and Mayor Jello.

          But if your actual question is, "Given that we live in a timeline where DNA Pizza exists, do you want a second location for it on its own merits?", yes. We sell a bunch of pizza. We think we can sell a bunch more.

  43. Ed Marshall says:

    In somewhat related news:

    S.F. supes back music venues against noise complaints
    Effort to Protect San Francisco Clubs From Noisy Lawsuits Passed By City Leaders

    (Ugh, why do I read the comments on sfgate? Remember, you're part of the "big money entertainment industry" that's being supported by the "Democratic Political Ruling Class on Pacific Street" that "flushes residents down the toilet so that businesses in the city will reign". Also, "something something big sugar".)

    Good luck with the new location!

  44. god damnit! "code word" please tell me this isn't another techie club for all the douches that displaced working people and artists in that neighborhood

  45. die techie scum says:

    NO! not another Techie club for the ass hats that displaced all the working class from the SOMA! I remember all the punk shows at Cherry and then Annies social club... please tell me your not gonna cater to the enemy! who am I kidding of course you are $$$

    • Matt says:

      given that it's an all-ages venue, he's clearly catering to all those 18-20 year-old techies.

      Oh wait: those don't exist.

  46. Annie Whiteside says:

    YAY! Glad you got the space. I wish you the best of luck
    Annie from Annie's Social Club

  47. ZCHSTN says:

    I could grovel and beg, or give sound reasoning why you should pick me, but really it's all about whether or not you like my work. Check out my portfolio (including the WIP page).


  48. JD says:

    as a musician, wouldn't it be better to make the new place for live music so we don't have to load gear upstairs?

  49. dayna says:

    moscone convention line out'the door dance parties!!!

  50. Stitchmind says:

    Hi J,

    I can get you a good price on a logo if you are interested. Feel free to email me or speak with me in person when I am at your venue. http://www.stitchmind.com

  51. very good ....the place....

  52. flodadolf says:


    Will you post a build log, ala Behind DNA? Because frankly, over here in Ohio, me having followed that appropriately-technical log (I refuse to use the term blog in this context because it was not yet a fully developed word) is the main reason I visit your pages these days...and the main reason why I'm buying you a bloody mary from your own bar if/when I get a chance to visit SF.

    Besides, it pleases me to live vicariously through the torment of others as they cling to their shreds of success.

    Otherwise, great news on the new property. It's excellent to hear that DNA Pizza is doing well enough that it needs a second location (it wasn't so long ago, it seems, that you were looking at limiting hours due to late-night disuse).

    And every town, big and small, needs more ~200-head venues: That's where magic is truly born.

    You are a true and selfless masochist. Keep up the good work.

    • Ben says:

      Oh, yes please. I know you're not explicitly doing this so we can vicariously enjoy your torments, but it's a nice bonus.

  53. Colton crum says:

    I'd be interested in designing a logo for you.

  54. Adam says:

    Do you have a concept for Codeword? Are you looking for logo submissions or to contract someone to design it?

    (Also, I've been a big fan of what you've done with DNA and look forward to seeing what happens with the new space)

  55. Desmond Fizzbonhonus says:

    It's cool that you folks have bought this club. But I doubt that a dance club will ever work in that location. It's got rock ghosts there and they won't allow it.

  56. anony trace says:

    GREAT NEWS!!!!! Love to hear that a great thing is spreading!

  57. James says:

    "a second location for DNA Pizza means that when one location is busy, we can stage deliveries out of the other. Right now on busy nights we have to choose between serving slices in-house and making pies for delivery, and it slows down both."

    I wonder what the speedup factor of another MIMD unit under this load will turn out to be. If you're successful, then the demand on both kitchens will saturate their provisioning, which means that they will still be limited in a way that puts constrained service quality as the limiting factor on demand.

    If that happens, the obvious next step would be to build a delivery-only kitchen in some location geographically central to delivery demand, and staff it according to demand per time. Of course, the devil is in the details, but you can probably show that's a superior solution to the word-of-mouth effect on customers who have to wait excessively when visiting in person.

  58. Frank says:

    I sincerely wish you the best of success with this new endeavor!

    And with once again navigating the trials, tribulations, and frustrations of the permit approval process. I've read all that you've written regarding your "adventures" in the past, and I don't envy you in terms of what you went through, but I certainly respect you for it.

    But shouldn't the name be CodeWord instead of Codeword? Then the CW part makes more sense, right? I'll not ask why you registered the domain name for just one year.

    And not to be my usual pedantic self, but you mentioned being located "...directly across the street from a brand new, massive condo development." I did some checking and it appears that both the 900 Folsom Street building and the associated 400 Clementina Street building are rental apartment buildings and not condominium apartment buildings - a minor point perhaps, but there is a real difference between the two.

    Oh, and before I forget, thank you for once again hosting an EFF Anniversary Party (July 16, for those who haven't yet heard - tickets on sale now).

    • jwz says:

      I always register my domains a year or two at a time because all registrars turn terrible eventually, and I don't see any reason to lock myself into a longer contract with one than necessary.

      I'm told that condo developments (or maybe overpriced rentals, I don't know) are also in the works to the immediate East, West and South of CW (the gas station, the parking lot, and behind). We'll be literally surrounded!

      • Frank says:

        For low-volume domain name registration, I highly recommend Tiger Technologies LLC. They charge $99.50 for a ten-year registration, which is usually what I go for. And it's a private registration at no extra charge.

        They're in the Bay Area (Berkeley, I believe) and have been in business since 1991. I've been using them for many years for .com, .net, and .org TLDs that I've registered on behalf of clients.

        In my experience, they are dependable and reliable, know their stuff technically, and don't outsource support so if you ever contact them for any reason, you'll be speaking with a knowledgeable neighbor and not someone halfway around the globe who is reading from a script.

        I'm mentioning them purely as a satisfied customer, no remuneration involved.

        With all of those new residential buildings going up in the vicinity of your "new branch office", I expect that you'll be overwhelmed with pizza orders and will eventually need to expand once again with an additional location. :)

        Again, best of success with CW!

  59. Covered Wagon? I used to be in various bands that played there in the music explosion heyday that was the 1980's.

    I'd forgotten the name, while driving by a few days ago, and was kicking myself to remember.

    We were there EARLIER than '89. Touch Me Hooker played there - with my guitar-player Eddie Jennings, who also did sound at I-Beam and ran Rockin' Bowl bar on Haight. That's very much '87.

    Won't you tell me...

  60. Ryan says:

    Hmm... CW is also known in amateur radio circles to represent Morse Code transmissions. You might find some sort of inspiration from the dits and dahs and related imagery.


  61. Chris D. says:

    Do you own the whole building now, such that you have a 3-story SRO as a tenant?

  62. lvh says:

    I live in that condo development, and look at the former Qi lounge every day. It winked at me. It wanted me to buy it. I'm glad it's going to a good home :)

    • jwz says:

      I'm glad I was able to spare you that terrible decision!

      • lvh says:

        Heh :-) I'll wave sometime. Since you mentioned getting the keys on Jun 1, I'm guessing the wrecking crew that's tearing stuff down next to/behind Qi/CW right now isn't you, then?

        • jwz says:

          We actually got the keys a few days early, but that's not us. I understand another residential building is going in to the South of CW and the gas station.

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