‘Central meeting place’: Albatross Pub to close after more than 50 years in Berkeley

Photo of Albatross Pub
Katie Lee/Staff
By Nov. 30, Albatross Pub will be permanently closed after being open since 1964 as the city of Berkeley’s oldest pub. The closure comes amid financial strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to hardships for Albatross Pub in regards to paying rent and maintaining operations.

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Albatross Pub, the oldest pub in the city of Berkeley, will officially be closing its doors by Nov. 30 due to the financial impacts of the pandemic.

Noted by many for its friendly atmosphere and strong sense of community, Albatross Pub has been an integral part of Berkeley’s nightlife since its opening in 1964 and is recognized for its casual, relaxing environment and frequent live music performances, according to its website. As Albatross Pub cannot maintain operations using delivery and pickup services like restaurants, it has been struggling under the weight of the pandemic, according to its GoFundMe page.

“It was a central meeting place for the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s and has been a central part of the Berkeley community ever since,” said Andrew McGee, co-owner of Albatross Pub, in the email. “Other than music and clothing styles, not much had changed.”

According to McGee, the space’s landlord recently retracted the reduced rent policy that had been put in place after the pub closed its operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to asking the pub to start paying rent at full price again, the landlord is also requesting the remainder of the last seven months of rent, McGee said in the email.

“The money requested was the amount of money we had budgeted to cover our rent for the next several months, and since we still are not allowed to operate, and most likely won’t be able to operate for the foreseeable future, we don’t have any option but to close,” McGee added in the email.

The pub ran a GoFundMe page earlier this year that helped management cover rent costs, but the business “simply ran out of time and money,” McGee said in the email. The page has raised $22,896 as of press time.

Since Albatross Pub’s announcement of its closure, regulars, former employees and frequent performers have been expressing sadness and frustration, and they have been sharing their fond memories at Albatross — also referred to as the “Bird” — over social media.

Many customers on social media said they discovered Albatross soon after moving to Berkeley, and it was a place where they upheld traditions with their friends, celebrated birthdays, ran or participated in Sunday trivia nights or became inspired to pursue bartending themselves.

Although many are upset by Albatross Pub’s closure, McGee remains optimistic about being able to open a new pub in the future.

“I hope to open a new place as soon as people are safely able to gather in groups once again,” McGee said in the email. “And we’re putting as much as possible from The Albatross into storage so that we can bring as much of the spirit of that pub into the new space.”

Contact Katia Pokotylo at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @katiapokotylo_.