New and Venerable Institutions: House of Shields

The venerable House of Shields reopened in 2002 after a brief closure. Ditto in 2003. Located in the Sharon Building at 39 New Montgomery, House of Shields is a San Francisco institution dating back nearly a century. The legendary jazz spot and restaurant features a menu of hearty dishes such as meat loaf, swordfish, and steak, as well as character almost unchanged since its 1908 launch by one Eddie Shields. Its bar, tile floor, and Victorian fixtures are all original. The basement, a private dining room and wine cellar, is a former speakeasy. In July, 2001 patrons found the historic restaurant padlocked by the sheriff. Then owners Charlie Candau and his wife, Audrey, were in arrears more than $300,000 in state taxes and other debts. The new owner was Joseph Cala of the Cala Corporation, who said he planned to maintain the joint's original character. Veteran San Francisco mixologist Frank Rivas resumed his post at the bar, but Cala's House of Shield closed again in mid-2003 after negotiations regarding a new lease broke down between Cala and the restaurant's landlords. The next reopening came a few months later in August, 2003.

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