SF CHRONICLE: Slim’s, venerable San Francisco night club, closes its doors


Slim’s nightclub. Courtesy: Ted-Maider.

After more than 30 years Slim’s has hosted its last concert. The nightclub will not be reopening when the regional shelter-in-place order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus ends, founder and owner Boz Scaggs told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Slim’s had its day,” Scaggs told the Chronicle’s Joel Selvin. “Maybe we could have changed things and kept it going, but that’s not our business and never has been. Slim’s did what it was here to do.”

The venue played a major role in Bay Area music history. The year 1993 alone saw Slim’s hosting the San Francisco debuts of Radiohead and, opening for ska band Dance Hall Crashers, No Doubt. In 1994, Sheryl Crow and Beck played their first shows in the area on its stage. As recently as 2010, it hosted Bruno Mars on his first nationwide tour. Weezer played an acoustic show there in 2014.

The club celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2018.

In 2001, Slim’s partnered with billionaire financier Warren Hellman to produce the Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park. Since then it has changed its name to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and become a local institution.

In 2002 the partnership behind Slim’s bought the Great American Music Hall in the Tenderloin. That venue will continue to stay open, according to the Chronicle, under the same ownership.

Following the departure of longtime general manager Dawn Holliday in 2017, the venue’s shows were booked by Goldenvoice starting in 2018. The leadership team was laid off. Under its previous management, Slim’s was this publication’s first recurrent advertiser.

Thanks in large part to its billionaire financial backers the owners of Slim’s reportedly never took any profit, putting all the revenue back into the club.

“[Venture capitalist and co-owner] Frank [Caufield] never saw a phenomenon like this,” Scaggs told the Chronicle. “The profit-and-loss statements stayed at zero.”

Slim’s staff will reportedly transfer to the Great American Music Hall when businesses are allowed to reopen. Plans for the site are unknown, but if a new nightclub does open, it will be under a new name.

— Daniel J. Willis.