To some San Francisco residents, Fisherman’s Wharf is considered more of a blight than a boon. Souvenir and T-shirt shops between kitschy attractions on Jefferson Street, such as Ripley’s Believe it or Not!, Madame Tussauds and the San Francisco Dungeon, are often over-crowded with tourists during the gloomy summer months.
It was an entirely different scene in the late 1800s, when Italian immigrants occupied fisheries along the wharf, dredging in local delicacies such as Dungeness crab. Although ties to its past as a trading port have waned overtime, Fisherman’s Wharf still holds a few maritime treasures.
A short distance from the waterfront, the newly opened Hotel Zephyr is a breath of fresh air in an outdated corner of the city. The nautical-themed boutique hotel debuted in June after a $32 million renovation and rebranding of its 361 modern accommodations and untraditional venues decked out in full retro splendor.
For meeting groups, there are no drab ballrooms or stuffy boardrooms on property. What they will find are spaces that go quite outside of the box. The Yard has 1,610 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space in a concrete industrial setting, complete with Popeye cartoon chalkboard sketches, shuffleboard, a pool table, a bar and plenty of funky chairs.
The fun and games continue with 8,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space and edgy art installations made from recycled materials, including warehouse dumpsters, old pipes and aluminum cans. The focal point is a stacked pile of rusted televisions in a defunct fire pit—it certainly makes a statement.
During a recent art reception at the hotel, event technology was on full display. Instead of using canvas, Bay Area artist Patricia Araujo presented her works across digital screens from Daylighted, a digital art exhibition company based in San Francisco. Hotel Zephyr plans to engage in future collaborations with local artists, merging traditional galleries with cutting-edge technology.