Discovering Vintage San Francisco

To Haberdashery!

On the heels of a fun talk with my esteemed panelists at the Mechanics’ Institute Library a few weeks ago, tonight I will have another opportunity to toast the history of the city and the small businesses that have made it fabulous over the years… this time, over scotch.

Jonathan Levin, grandson of Cable Car Clothiers founder Charlie Pivnick and current owner of the beautiful menswear shop on Sutter Street, will be hosting a “Scotch and Signing” at his store. The event will honor the book and the store’s worthy inclusion in it, and is really just a good excuse to sip fine liquor. Invitations have been sent, RSVPs received, books gathered and scotch selected. And I am feeling so fortunate to be part of such an effortlessly swank event – and I’m definitely not cool enough (thanks, Jonathan, for allowing this interloper into your super hip world).

In honor of Jonathan and his “Grandpa Hat” – Levin’s childhood nickname for Pivnick – here are a few old pictures of the founder (the guy with the glasses) in his day. A mover and a shaker and a man about town, Pivnick was a respected businessman and philanthropist and described by so many as simply a really nice guy. He passed away just weeks before my first conversation with Levin for the book, in the fall of 2014. Emotion was raw and respect obvious for the man who first started the business on the famed cable car route in downtown San Francisco. For the full picture of what makes Cable Car Clothiers special, buy the book and read the essay about the shop. Or even better, go to the store – get Levin’s counsel on a hat and feel more dapper than you ever have before.

Cheers to Pivnick, Levin, and to generational family businesses. Cheers to the classics. And of course, cheers to San Francisco, that enchanting city by the choppy, grey bay. Tonight I will raise a glass to all of these things, and feel warmed by the burn of stiff drink and conviviality, and love for days gone by.