Merchants Saloon is the dive bar in Oakland.
401 Second St.
Website (via archive.org)
Opens at 7 am weekdays and yes there will be people there drinking at 7 am. There is a spittoon trough people will tell you is a urinal. Yes. Dive bar. Around since 1916.
Photos CC SA-BY Our Oakland
You will still find merchants and other sea-faring folks there, with very assorted others. The staff literally look like pirates and probably have the best hands-down staff biography page around. Everyone looks like they survived hell and back.
There's a pool table, sometimes, if there isn't a hardcore metal or punk show going on.
The bar makes several appearances in season 5 of "Last Chance U" about the football program at Laney College.
The history hasn't been traced as far back as 1916 yet, but that's when the Oakland Produce Market was constructed. Following the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Egisto Evangelisti applied for a license to sell beer and wine at the location. 2 The name of the bar or restaurant at that time isn't known. The 1950 Sanborn map shows the space as a restaurant. In 1969, it was known as Merchants Restaurant, run by Lorenzo (Lawrence) Gregori. 1
Links and References
- This Oakland Dive Bar Used to Be an Italian Restaurant. Because of COVID-19, It’s Serving Meatballs Once Again by Luke Tsai on SF Eater
- Polk's Oakland 1969
- Here Are Applications For Liquor Licenses in East Bay Oakland Tribune December 11, 1933