The (old) Old Pro opened in a Quonset hut under another name on El Camino Real near Page Mill Road and Oregon Expressway nearly 60 years ago, and Steve Sinchek purchased the business in 1994. He opened the second location of The Old Pro in downtown Palo Alto about a decade later, and the El Camino bar was shuttered in 2007 with one last blowout where its televisions were sold to patrons for $20.
The Old Pro's current spot meant relocating its dive bar environment to the trendier location of downtown Palo Alto in a space with floor-to-ceiling windows. Still, The Old Pro retained its classic sports memorabilia decor and continued hosting everyone from Little Leaguers to college students and venture capitalists. During major sporting events, the bar would come alive and transform into a space packed with hordes of fans decked out in the red, white and blue of U.S. soccer and the red and gold of the 49ers.
Sinchek pointed to the pandemic keeping away customers now working remotely — along with rising food, rent and labor costs — as the main factors in the bar's closure in interviews with the Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle, though he still operates the nearby Local Union 271. A statement on social media thanks community members and asks customers to share pictures and stories. (Sinchek could not be reached for comment before The Almanac's publication deadline.)
Hundreds of commenters have responded and left memories. One patron recounted meeting her husband at the bar, and others pleaded for someone to come in and save the local institution. One follower joked and asked if she could get her fake ID back that was confiscated over a decade ago.
Palo Alto's other beloved longtime dive bar, Antonio's Nut House, closed in August 2020 after 50 years in business. The property owner recently submitted a new plan for reinventing the space. British Pub The Rose & Crown, which opened in 1990 (though the building had a long history as a local tavern), still serves drinks on Emerson Street.
If the series goes seven games, fans will be able to watch the last game of the NBA Finals at The Old Pro on its last day, Father's Day on June 19.
The Old Pro, 541 Ramona St., Palo Alto; 650-326-1446, oldpropa.com. Instagram: @oldpro_sportsbar.
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