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Friday, March 9, 2012

Gold Dust Lounge Update: No Last Call Party, Supporters Accused of Vandalism

Posted By on Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 1:00 PM

The Gold Dust Lounge's lease is dead. Long live the Gold Dust Lounge (which will neither close nor get evicted this weekend, but will serve

Sticking around
  • Sticking around
$1 vodka drinks).

Negotiations between the operators and landlords 

regarding the future of the Union Square landmark bar will continue past March 10. That's the date when the Bovis brothers' lease on the space they've rented from the Handlery family expires, according to a release issued Friday morning.  The Handlerys are the operators of the eponymous hotel and future landlord of the Express clothing store that's signed an agreement to take over the bar's space.

"The historic Dive Bar will not be padlocked on Sunday and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi will not be evicting the Bovis Brothers until the courts decide on their lawsuit (no time soon)," said press agent Lee Houskeeper, who announced a daylong "No Last Call Party" for Saturday. The brothers, both in their 80s, filed suit in February, alleging that the lease was altered without their knowledge.

And accusations of unfair play remain in the air: In a competing release, Gold Dust supporters stand accused of defacing a Handlery Hotel bathroom with "pro-Gold Dust slogans," according to PR maven Sam Singer. But: dollar drinks!

This real estate-related kerfuffle has been brewing most of the year. The Handlerys gave the Bovis brothers notice in December that the lease would not be renewed for the space they've rented since 1966. The Handlerys say they were up front with the Gold Dust's owners that they were looking for a large retail tenant to take over the bar's space as well as adjacent commercial space.

Earlier reports said that the bar had received an eviction notice for March 10. That's not so, bar PR man Singer said: that's merely when the lease expires.

Two separate legal actions are at play: Attorney Joe Cotchett sued the Handlerys in February, alleging that the landlord took advantage of the Bovis' advanced age to amend the lease to allow them to be kicked out. Supporters are also seeking historic landmark status for the bar; several members of the Board of Supervisors introduced last-minute legislation to do that.

And that's in bad faith, too, Singer said: The bar was never owned by Bing Crosby, nor was it open in 1933, as claimed on the bar's signage. Plus, the bar was officially declared a dump in 1985: "The objective evaluation form for the 1985 Category 1 designation by the City of San Francisco rates the interior of the bar as 'fair/poor,'" Singer wrote.

So there will be no padlock on the door put there by Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, whose job it is to hoard panties evict recalcitrant renters. Nor will the Gold Dust Lounge's 10 employees seek unemployment -- and nor shall imbibers in Union Square long seek thirst-slakes, not with dollar vodka drinks to wash down $3.50 glasses of champagne.

And what better potion to inspire graffiti. "A bathroom on the 3rd floor was defaced with graffiti that reads 'Occupy Gold Dust' and 'Save the Gold Dust' and 'F___ You--the Police,'" according to Singer. This graffiti was discovered on March 6, the same day that lawyers for the landlords and lessees met to hammer out an agreement.

This stalemate appears set for at least the time being. The space has been leased out to someone else, whom the landlord wants there. The bar, with popular support, says it's going to stay put. And how do you evict a bar, anyway?

So get in a Gold Dust Lounge visit while you can, but if it's too crowded this weekend -- as it has been for months now -- rest safe knowing you can come back on Monday.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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