Big remodel OK'ed for Swedish American Music Hall, Café Du Nord 

click to enlarge Café Du Nord
  • Juan Pardo/Special to the S.f. Examiner
  • Café Du Nord, which is downstairs from the Swedish American Hall, is set to continue being a live music venue after the remodel.
San Francisco’s speakeasy-turned-venue Café Du Nord, which held its last pre-renovation show in December before closing down for six months, has been given the nod to start a remodeling project.

The new owners of Café Du Nord received approval for their requested conditional-use permit from the Planning Commission on Thursday.

The remodel and expansion of the popular music venue in the 107-year-old Swedish American Hall on Market Street can now proceed.

“The music will continue in the Swedish American Hall,” said Enrique Landa, who made his case for the upgrade to the Planning Commission on Thursday.

The building, between Sanchez and Church streets, will only slightly be changed on the exterior; specifically, a new sign will be installed. The rest of the improvements will occur inside the building.

Café Du Nord, located in the hall’s basement, will be slightly expanded according to the plans, while the upper levels of the building — including a hall that had only been open for private events — will be made accessible to the general public with the installation of an elevator and Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible bathrooms. The street-level space will become a restaurant, as it has been in the past.

Landa represents Dylan MacNiven, who was behind Woodhouse Fish Co. and West of Pecos restaurants, and is managing the remodeling effort.

Guy Carson and Kerry LaBelle ran Café Du Nord until the operation was sold to a joint venture behind the remodel.

Landa pointed out that the conditional-use permit will allow the applicant to finally put an elevator in an elevator shaft that never had one.

Commissioner Cindy Wu, a supporter of the renovation, said she hopes the focus of the venue remains largely the same, an inexpensive place that has nurtured a lot of local talent.

Besides assuring the commission that there will continue to be live music at the venue, Landa did not say exactly what the changes will mean for Café Du Nord. He did tell The San Francisco Examiner that one of the former Café Du Nord owners will act in a consulting capacity for the new owners.

No one spoke in opposition to the expansion Thursday.

Ted Olsson, secretary of the Swedish Society of San Francisco, the building’s owner, spoke in support of the project, saying that it will allow the Swedish Hall to continue acting as a cultural and community asset.

About The Author

Jonah Owen Lamb

Jonah Owen Lamb

Born and raised on a houseboat in Sausalito, Lamb has written for newspapers in New York City, Utah and the San Joaquin Valley. He was most recently an editor at the San Luis Obispo Tribune for nearly three years. He has written for The S.F. Examiner since 2013 and covers criminal justice and planning.
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