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Doc’s Clock wants $20,000 to move signature neon sign

Staple dive bar had to leave its illuminated trademark behind when it relocated in 2017

Photo by Michela

When staple Mission dive bar Doc’s Clock lost its least in 2017 and had to move a block away, it left behind its single most recognizable asset: The giant neon sign that lured neighbors to Doc’s doors for decades.

Although owner Carey Suckow initially hoped to take the signature sign with her to the new locale, it initially appeared that its time was up as well.

“We are not able to take our sign and we plan to rebuild one,” Suckow told Eater SF in May, promising instead to create a new eye-catching signage for its present locale at 2417 Mission.

On Tuesday, Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office announced that she had worked out a bargain between Doc’s and its former building owner.

“Ronen negotiated a win-win [...] ensuring that the original vintage sign could move and that the landlord would be able to replace it with something similar in shape and size,” according to a press release from her office.

A sign advertising an unrelated business in giant glowing letters is of course not much good to the building owner these days, but Ronen aide Amy Beinart told Curbed SF that it’s actually the awning that’s the most valuable asset in this case.

“It projects over the sidewalk more than is typically allowed,” Beinart says. “That will remain at the old locale, and that allows the landlord to put a new sign on that awning, and meanwhile the face of the sign, the part that’s important to the bar, will move.”

The Planning Department gave Doc’s a “vintage sign” designation in 2016, which means that it can be featured on the new building even if it wouldn’t normally fly with the zoning and planning standards for that block.

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The catch is that the bar needs to raise $20,000 for the actual relocation, so of course they’ve taken to Go Fund Me.

“Through the tireless efforts of Doc’s owner they now have a 20 year lease in a space that feels like home,” campaign organizer Amy Benjamin writes “I’m asking that the community comes [sic] together to help them bring their sign home. The cost to accomplish this is significant to a small, independent business owner, so any little bit helps.”

The page raised more than $3,800 on its first day, and a larger fundraiser event featuring a silent auction scheduled for March 2.

Doc’s opened on Mission Street in 1951 as “The Clock Tavern,” then earned its doctorate ten years later when local dentist Ralph Mancuso bought the place and conferred his title on the front. The original Doc’s location remains vacant for the time being.