I am happy to report that Ex-Cardinal Slugger Jack Clark new venture in San Francisco happens to be Pine Tar Grill that’s a Giants centric restaurant. This is not a media release but I do want to share an article the talks about the back story of Pine Tar Grill.
In 1965, Willie Mays had a .317 batting average, hit 52 home runs, won the National League MVP award, and made a 6-year-old San Rafael kid named Dave Martin fall in love with the San Francisco Giants.
“The first game I ever went to that year, I got to see Willie Mays play for the first time. I remember just watching him run across the field,“ Martin said. “The grass was so green. It looked perfect. Honestly, I was pretty much hooked after that.”
Martin is turning that childhood nostalgia into something tangible — a restaurant called Pine Tar Grill.
Martin is in the process of taking over the 4,000-square-foot space at 917 Folsom St., the former home of all-ages venue Codeword and its sister restaurant, DNA Pizza.
“I pretty much always wanted to have a place that has a theme that’s Giants memorabilia,” said the first-time restaurateur. “It’s a crazy dream, but it’s my dream.”
If the restaurant as a concept can be traced back to anything, Martin said, it would be his afternoons as a kid spent standing outside of the stadium long after the Giants finished playing. In those days, bats that were broken during the games were thrown in the garbage not far from the ballpark’s exits.
“Me and other kids, we’d wait until those bats were taken to the trash and we’d go get them,” Martin said with a laugh.
The collection grew to consist of dozens of bats over the years, all in various states of disrepair. Martin said he plans to use roughly 30 to 40 of the bats as a prominent component of the restaurant’s design. Even the name Pine
The collection grew to consist of dozens of bats over the years, all in various states of disrepair. Martin said he plans to use roughly 30 to 40 of the bats as a prominent component of the restaurant’s design. Even the name Pine Tar Grill is a reference to the sticky material players use on their bats to get a better grip.
The restaurant has a Type-47 liquor license, meaning it will also have a full bar. Aesthetically, the project is still coming together, but Martin said he plans to have 20 televisions scattered throughout the rooms. Martin added that the kitchen will serve “upscale comfort food,” though he has yet to hire a chef for the project.
Both Codeword and DNA Pizza were owned by the people behind DNA Lounge, a beloved San Francisco nightclub also in SoMa, and to keep the lounge open, they had to sacrifice the two struggling operations.
“We were feeling too spread thin,” co-owner Barry Synoground told The Chronicle last summer.
Though Martin’s sports identity is rooted in the past, he said he isn’t concerned with the tumultuous business history at 917 Folsom St. The restaurant and bar business in the Bay Area is hard for everyone, he said.
“Honestly, I should have my head examined for doing this,” he joked.
One of the more unique aspects of Pine Tar Grill is the fact that it was shaped with a little input from Giants legend Jack Clark, who Martin said is a close friend of his.
The restaurant, in its early form, was called the Pitcher’s Mound. Martin said when he told Clark about the concept and how he planned to use his collection of bats as a centerpiece of the design, Clark told him the idea was ridiculous.
“He said ‘You’re going to have used bats on the wall but call the place Pitcher’s Mound? That’s ridiculous,’” Martin said with a laugh. “Jack is really outspoken and tells the truth. He was right. So I had to tweak it.”
Eventually, the restaurant could pivot into a club of sorts for Giants fans across the city, Martin said.
“I imagine it as the kind of place where if it had opened years ago, it would have been the place where old-school sportswriters would come after the games,” he said. “That’s the environment I want. This place is from my heart. That’s all it is.”
Pine Tar Grill and Bar: 917 Folsom St.
Justin Phillips is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @JustMrPhillips