Friday, April 29, 2011

SF Eagle Lease Expired Last Year;
Are Gay Bar Owners the Problem?

[Correction: The BAR did cover the lease expiration last year. See below for details.]

There's quite a bit of news, none of it good, to share about the latest machinations over the Eagle Tavern. The current Bay Area Reporter noted these details in the paper yesterday:

The home to well-loved Sunday beer busts, which raise money for numerous LGBT groups, Gardiner and co-owner Joe Banks have been trying to sell the bar, at 398 12th Street, for more than a year.

Gardiner recently said that the bar's lease expired more than a year ago, so "I guess it goes month to month." ...

News to me that the lease was up quite a while ago and that the owners had offered the place for sale. I don't recall any effort by the owners last year to inform the community about the developments and keep us informed. Gardiner and Banks had a duty to the patrons and supporters of the Eagle to get the word out _before_ reaching a crisis point this month.

We've seen too many organizations and businesses around town experience (small) troubles that for economic, political or mismanagement reasons that blossom into crises or even closures, and no genuine attempt at respecting the affected constituents by letting us know problems are afoot. A common thread weaving through so many ailing entities is an unconscionable dearth of communication.

Looking back at the emergency meeting at the Eagle, I recall every speaker connected with the bar was vague or made confusing points. Clarity is sorely lacking from the owners.

Got an email a short while ago from Brock Keeling of the, making me aware of a Facebook post from a community leader in the fight to save the Eagle bar, drag artiste Anna Conda. And Eve Batey made me aware of a site run by Willo, who has similar concerns with the bar owners.

Let me say how grateful I am to Anna, Brock, Eve and Willo for putting out the info and looking for hard facts and clarity. We need more folks like them pulling back the curtains and seeing what lurks in the darkness. Thanks guys!

From Willo's site:

This just in from Anna Conda/Glendon Hyde on the Save the Eagle Facebook page. (I make no claims to its veracity, but Anna Conda/Glendon Hyde has been extremely diligent and active in the issue and by all accounts has been entirely reliable.) And if this is true, then my apologies to concluding that the land owner was the jerk in this story—however it would be nice to actually hear something on the record from the landlord to clear this up.

[Excerpted from Anna's page]

What If the problem with loosing the Eagle was an inside job? 

So this is just a made up story or is it?

You own two bars in SOMA and you are a heavy drinker and poor business person. One bar called the Hole in the Wall is your baby and it just cost you a great deal of money to relocate it in the SOMA neighborhood. You want this bar to continue and can't afford the second bar called the Eagle. You decide to sell the Eagle but during that time there is rampant problems created by this owner like inventory problems, rent not being paid for months and you decide it would be better to sell to a straight owner to cut down on competition for your bar the Hole in the Wall. In fact you have willingly made a deal to sell to the owners of the Skylark bar. ...

Finally you would hold the liquor license hostage from potential buyers like say the owner of the Dallas Eagle; who has a great reputation as a community and AIDS activist. You might also go into the Eagle and start removing art work and memorabilia and stop liquor deliveries. Yep if your names were John and Joe and you currently just want out at any cost you would do this.... and to your own community.

While talking to a lawyer for the property owner all this might come out and become knowledge for the community. This lawyer would tell you things like, "Of course we want a 30 year business to stay in the property that is just good business sense." Or "If it were not for all the problems with the current lease holder the entire process would have been easier," Or even "Keep it the Eagle but we can't get you the liquor license because John and Joe own that and they don't want to sell it."

It sounds like fiction but actually it's just about as true as can be. Hoodwinked by members of our own community.

Thanks a lot [Eagle owners] John and Joe. That was real nice to find out yesterday as you dismantled a place so many called home. Hope the Hole in the Wall serves you well but I will say that I will never step foot into one of your establishments again. I am very saddened to find all this out and would never ever give you another cent of queer monies after what you have put us through this last month. Utterly disturbing!

Correction: There was coverage of the lease expiring in 2010, as this note from Matthew Bajko of the BAR mentions.

hey Michael

Saw your post about the Eagle.

Just one minor clarification - we wrote two stories last year about the Eagle being for sale:


Hope you enjoy your weekend

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