How I saved what was left of my soul at the Sutter Station

Craigory Sparks
4 min readJul 27, 2018


The best bar in San Francisco to grab a drink before going into the office.

That day came Wednesday. The day I always knew would come. The day when I would arrive at that giant glass door to the office high rise in the Financial District of San Francisco. That office high rise full of J. Crew bros and SoulCycle girls mucking about with their avocado shakes. When I was approaching that glass passage into the corporate tech meat grinder, I could see an entire herd of them queuing up for the elevators. It was a frightening sight and it was that day that I just couldn’t go past that shiny door anymore.

So, I turned around and went downtown in search of a bar.

Finding an open bar in the early morning hours in downtown San Francisco is a difficult quest, but it is was a quest that was essential that day. After nearly getting run over by a multitude of one-wheeled electronic extreme nerd vehicles, I remembered, there was that place, that one place, the place I had walked past hundreds of times, but never dared to go in. That place that rumbled with the sounds of people being roasted alive as you got near it. The legendary Sutter Station. So, at seven thirty in the morning, on that glorious day, all roads lead me to the Sutter Station.

Sutter Station — Market Street Back Entrance. Image via yelp.

The Sutter Station is a real bar. A bar for alcoholics. A bar where you can actually have a beer with the beggar who asked you for a dollar so he could go get a beer at the bar. Yes, it’s that bar that he was talking about! It’s the only bar in the world with no front entrance but two back ones. A triangular shaped refuge from all that is ugly in the world.

As I walked through the back entrance on Sutter street, to my utter delight there was no one in sight, other than the bartender. A real bartender. The kind of bartender who doesn’t need to consult his iPhone when someone asks for a Jack and Coke.

The sweet smell of Tequila caught my attention, so I sat down on a bar stool in the middle of the bar, like a boss, and ordered a Margarita. As I waited, I noticed that I could feel my humanity slowly returning into my lifeless corpse. Then after a few minutes of careful preparation, the sweet nectar of the gods arrived. I exclaimed, “What! You guys don’t have ice and a blender! What the hell man! What kind of Margarita is this?” But since it was said, in the right context and in the most ridiculous manner, it only elicited a good chuckle from the Station staff, rather than the usual punch in the face. Now that we were on good terms I asked, “What time do the rest of those zombies mulling about outside decide to come in?”, “Oh, around lunchtime.” he said. Which I thought would give me plenty of time to enjoy this little gem all the more to myself, this lost paradise where one goes to become human again.

Inside Sutter Station. Image via yelp.

But alas! Time had gone on too long. I had bills that needed to be paid and obligations to others to be fulfilled, so my time at the Sutter Station was brief and coming to an end. I threw down a generous tip, got up, and roared like a person being burned at the stake. I was born again into this world of lies!

Yet, the charms and incantations unleashed at the Sutter Station lingered in my mind and strength had returned to my body. A strength that I would need to get down Market, back to the high-rise, and through that glass door. I noticed a smile, not my normal fake smile, but a real smile was forming on my grizzled face, for I knew that I was not on the same level anymore. I was on a level, for at least a short time, where one can be themselves and not be bothered by the orgy of greed all around, and most importantly, be able to tolerate one’s role in it.

So next time you find yourself twenty people deep, waiting for a cup of coffee on a Wednesday morning in downtown Techlandia, reflect on this; just about anyone can go to their sanctioned 4:30pm office happy hour on Friday, suck down a free beer as compensation from their corporate masters for lending them their soul for another week, but it takes a superior human being to break free from all that, down a cocktail at the Sutter Station on an empty stomach at 7:45 am, and get through the rest of the day without getting fired. This is what it means to create one’s own life.