Opening: Proof Public House Replaces Mercury Bar

Chinatown has a new pool bar from the owners of Downbeat Diner. The grand opening is this Saturday, Jan. 31.
Photos: Jennifer Fielder


In the wake of the abrupt shuttering of Brasserie Du Vin, itself the latest in a string of Chinatown restaurant closures, here, at least, is a bright spot for the neighborhood: the opening of Proof Public House, the latest venture from Downbeat Diner proprietors Joshua Hancock and Serena Hashimoto.


Housed in the former location for Mercury Bar on an offshoot of Fort Street Mall, the Proof Public House has been quietly serving beer and pizza since its turnover in ownership in December, but will open officially this Saturday, Jan. 31, with a public party featuring musician Mike Love and $1 slices of pizza.


“We’re opening the spaces we wanted to go to but that weren’t here yet,” says Hancock, speaking about his growing stable of properties. In this case, that means an airy, open space with a bar that has both budget canned beer and craft selections, a solid food menu and a pool table. “No gimmicks,” he says, ruling out the regular live music shows that Mercury was known for, and club-style DJs, which can be found elsewhere in Chinatown. Read: the kind of place you can come and actually hang out and have a conversation with your friends.


The décor is spare, with a handsome wooden bar, hanging Edison light bulbs for hipster flair and a white-tiled floor revealing the underpinnings of the historic lobby-level bar of the Blaisdell Hotel, the original 1930s-era inhabitant of the space. One change: huge open windows have been added to the front of the space to let in light and air, which makes for an especially appealing early evening option for the neighborhood.



Similar to Downbeat Diner, vegan and vegetarian options are heavily featured on the menu; everyone should find something to like. Pizzas are thin-crust with toppings both basic (cheese and pepperoni) and not-so-basic (the “Hotel Street” features chicken adobo and cabbage). The plan right now is for the slice menu to change daily between six and nine selections ($3.50 to $4), while the list of whole pies will switch up weekly ($18 to $18.50). A gluten-free option is in the works.


The rest of the menu is rounded out by a trio of Mediterranean appetizers—bruschetta, tapenade and hummus—and a roster of safe, crowd-pleasing salads, including Greek, Caesar and caprese.


The beer selection runs the gamut from comfortable (cans of Tecate) to more adventurous, with selections from Humboldt Brewing Co., Rogue and Maui Brewing  Co. on tap. The cocktail list skews toward classics, such as the Old Fashioned and Moscow Mule (all $8). Happy hour, from 4 to 7 p.m. daily, will shave off a dollar from drink prices.


Even though the grand opening is this weekend, further tinkering with the space is in the works. Hancock has plans for an expanded appetizer menu and, in a few months, a private karaoke room in the small second-floor room, which will be rentable by the hour.


1154 Fort St., Suite 10, 537-3080, Monday to Friday 11 a.m. to 2  a.m., Saturday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Closed Sundays.