Photos of Mervyn's surface in various places, including Nick Perry's second photo-history book "Mountain View, Then & Now" (page 78).
The original restaurant closed in the 1990s, evolving to Chef Liu. But the compact, popular bar behind it (Mervyn's Lounge) continued as a tenant with separate ownership -- and low profile, like a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Accessible by a nondescript blue door in the alley, or through the restaurant (by continuing past the restrooms in the rear, through a second door, in an arrangement resembling a space-ship "air lock"). Some residents have passed the alley door for years, not knowing a popular neighborhood bar-lounge was behind it.
That's all changing, immediately. Chef Liu is now gone. Mervyn's Lounge will serve its last drink TONIGHT, closing for good at 2AM after 51 years. There's a larger story to this, but first more details about Mervyn's Lounge.
Bartender Mike Coughlin told me today that the Lounge received word yesterday it must close. The news is out, and this afternoon, old customers were dropping by to pay respects. I wouldn't be surprised if the tiny place fills to capacity with old customers and well-wishers in its remaining hours.
I got other details from Ruddy Wang, part of the family that owns the property and owned Chef Liu. According to Ruddy, after remodeling the Chef-Liu space (now underway and scheduled for completion later this month), the owners plan to restore the former Mervyn's restaurant in the 236-Castro-Street frontage.
Not the original Greek-American café, but an updated version with inexpensive casual foods emphasizing "small plates," and drinks in front as well as back. Current draft menu includes slider sandwiches, potato specialties (how about sweet-potato "tater tots?"), "street tacos."
History is much on Ruddy's mind, he said. He has begun seeking photos of the old Mervyn's restaurant to decorate the new interior, and honor the original. The restaurant's interior has already been reorganized. The plan, he said, is first to open the restored Mervyn's restaurant, then remodel the separate bar-lounge space in back, re-opening it as an integrated part of the new restaurant under single ownership.