Elda, that cool new (ish) mezcal bar in Mission, scared its fans last fall. The bar temporarily closed in November and then moved out of furniture and appliances in December, sparking rumors of the permanent closure. Mission Local made regular reports that there was a problem with the landlords and the Elda owners declined to answer certain questions at this point. But now fans of mezcal and rum cocktails and pepita salsa can take a deep breath. The owners finally confirmed to Eater SF that they are not closing but moving. The new location is still TBD, but they are currently looking for a new location for “Elda 2.0” and hope to get back on their feet in the next few months.
Elda originally opened in the summer of 2019 and quickly became one of the Mission’s hottest new cocktail bars. The opening team consisted of Eric Ochoa (ABV, Bar Agricole, Trou Normand), Alvaro Rojas (True Laurel, El Techo) and Jay De Natale, two talented local bartenders and entrepreneurs. Elda had the distinction of being a Latin owned bar that defied the stereotypes of margaritas and tacos. There were creative cocktails with mezcal, tequila and rum as well as a selection of Jamaican beef patties, sandwiches with fried chicken on milk bread and sikil p’ak (pepita salsa) in a spacious room full of light and splashes of color. It was an instant hit in the neighborhood and at home on the mission.
“We did really well out of goal,” said De Natale. “… Eric had won a bar star [from the SF Chronicle]. We had just received a top 10 from the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, which is a cool honor. Business was good. We had just mailed our first check back to investors in an ecstatic letter saying we were fine and ahead of schedule. ”
When the pandemic broke out, Elda had only been open for nine months. Continuing their strong cocktail program and community support, the bar tried all the pandemic pivots with creativity and care: they said they laid off most of the staff and dropped onto a skeleton crew of five. They made bottled cocktails, twisted Desert Grifter’s, Vampiro and Pink Flamingo’s favorite cocktails in small bottles, ran their own delivery service, and started virtual events. They built a parklet, boarded up the windows and painted them with colorful murals. They also hosted a formidable series of pop-ups partnering with stars like Mister Jiu, long-time favorites like Miss Ollie’s Curry Goat, and breakout hits like Astranda’s coffee-frozen cinnamon rolls.
But despite all these efforts, and while Ochoa and De Natale applied for loans, grants, and crowdfunding, they were unable to reach a reasonable settlement with their landlord. The regular who spoke to Mission Local said the landlord was charging $ 14,000 a month. De Natale adds that the room was also earmarked for seismic retrofitting, which could have required another temporary closure. “We never had a good relationship with our landlord … It was never a partnership, it never felt like we had a stable stand,” says De Natale. “They were never ready to reach an agreement and find a solution…. Our best bet was a fresh start with Elda 2.0. We had to find a new location for this. ”
He says that Elda 2.0 will stay true to the original; The menu may be tweaked to begin with, but it will be the same creative mezcal and rum cocktails that fans have come to love. It will be largely the same team, with Ochoa and De Natale for sure, although third player Alvaro Rojas has a separate new project in the works (Buddy coming to the old Californios room) so his specific plans remain to be seen. You are currently looking for a space that can be a bit smaller and ideally offers a combination of indoor and outdoor seating. The only change that might be hard to swallow for regulars is that Elda’s new location isn’t necessarily in the Mission – Ochoa and De Natale say that as much as they love their original neighborhood, they’re open to places in the all over town to explore.
“It was a rough decision, an emotional decision, after all the effort, work and heart that we put into the room,” says De Natale. “We were friends with everyone in the building. We all knew. But we had to be scratchy and adapt, and we had to put that aside and do what is best for the future. “And after watching so many companies band together during the pandemic, he says they feel happy. “We can use our successful concept and our reputation and look for a new location…. There are a lot of people out there in worse positions…. We are grateful to have the opportunity to open and find a new place. “Look forward to updates for the next iteration of Elda.