Everyone always complains about the lack of late-night food options in San Francisco. Sure, there are greasy spoons and fast-food joints, but an actual restaurant with actual food? Not much luck. The Pawn Shop, by the same owners as Monarch, aims to change that.

The newest addition to the Sixth @ Mission nightlife corridor is a slightly controversial concept, featuring a fake “pawn shop” facade, complete with “pawn shop” actors. From the street, the building looks similar to the Best Collateral pawn shop that it used to be. But behind that facade, a “secret” door leads patrons to a hidden tapas / cocktails bar.

We caught up with the folks behind The Pawn Shop, Chris Smith, co-owner and founder of Monarch Management Group, and Damien Chabaud-Arnault, co-owner and owner of Bisou Group, to talk about the shop, the food, and San Francisco’s nightlife.

How did the idea of Pawn Shop come together?

Chris: The space was previously a pawn shop. When it became available, we started to think about opening a new concept, while still keeping the integrity of the building. Monarch has been around since 2011, so we also wanted to have a space next door that played off the nightlife scene and offered late-night dining.

How did you come up with the idea of changing actors and performers behind the ‘pawn shop’ counter?

Chris: We wanted The Pawn Shop to be more of an immersive experience. The character actors add an element of fun.

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Why Spanish food?

Damien: Tapas are great to share, not too expensive, fun for the table. We enjoy the communal aspect of tapas and our service style reflects that we want customers to interact and be comfortable. The Pawn Shop is inspired by a wine bar in Barcelona where everyone is talking to each other, creating a social experience. The menu is Spanish with a twist of French, Italian, and Californian.

Why include low ABV cocktails on the menu?

Damien: We wanted to provide an option to our guests that was not beer or wine. We also wanted to offer an option for guests where they could sip on their cocktail to taste, and enjoy throughout the meal, rather than tasting the stronger flavor of a high-proof spirit.

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What’s your response to claims that putting a Pawn Shop in the area is in poor taste?

Chris: The space has always been a Pawn Shop. We merely kept the existing storefront as the entrance to our new tapas restaurant and bar. We’ve been a part of the community at 6th and Mission for 8 years now, as we own Monarch next door. Throughout our years in the community we have worked in concert with the city to keep supporting our neighborhood.

The Pawn Shop is located at 993 Mission Street, San Francisco