The gutted second floor bar space at 1501 Folsom Street, the former home of Febe’s leather bar. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)
San Francisco’s Planning Commission has unanimously approved plans to convert the former home of a historic South of Market leather bar into a nightclub and restaurant.
Leticia Luna, 61, who has a long history with LGBT businesses, is planning to feature Salsa music and considering a fusion of Mexican and seafood at her new business, which she plans to call Calle Once.
The 1501 Folsom Street venue, at the intersection with Eleventh Street, once housed Febe’s, which was the first leather bar on Folsom when it opened its doors in 1966. The bar closed 20 years later.
The six commissioners present Thursday, September 18 all voted in favor of Luna’s conditional use proposal to expand the existing nighttime entertainment use and establish an outdoor activity area.
Luna, who’s straight, has said she’s open to including the leather community in her new business.
“The leather crowd put me on the map,” she said. “How can I ever forget them? I would love to have a leather night, with somebody that could help me promote it. It’s going to be a nice space.” She hopes to open Calle Once by July.
In a phone message after the vote, Luna said, “I’m very happy, and now I have the green light to start my plans on Eleventh Street.”
Planning Department staffer Brittany Bendix said Thursday that conditions include “routinely” maintaining the sidewalk and abiding by “more stringent noise controls” than normal for the rooftop restaurant because of the site’s proximity to a live-work building. The restaurant would include outdoor seating.
Luna told commissioners that the business would offer people “one stop” to have dinner and see live music.
She said at the restaurant, “Our last serving will be 11 o’clock [p.m.] so everybody will be out by 12.”
Noise mitigation will also include double-pane windows, and Luna’s hired a sound engineer to work on the project.
There has been little public opposition to the plans, and Mike Talley, 57, a self-described gay leatherman, was the only person who spoke during public comment.
Talley presented a petition and asked commissioners to deny Luna’s request, expressing concern about honoring the site’s “extreme historical significance to my community,” and he said he wants the building to “get the landmark status that it truly deserves.” (Making the building a historical landmark would be handled by another commission.)
Talley had told the Bay Area Reporter he believed Luna would demolish the building, but he didn’t mention that concern Thursday, and he offered little explanation for his opposition.
Gay Commissioner Dennis Richards asked Tally “what grounds” he had for requesting the denial.
Talley said, “It’s a landmark building” and he was concerned the proposed “overdeveloped construction” would “damage the historical integrity” of the site.
Richards pointed out that Luna would just be adding to the roof of the building, which has already been altered inside over the years and gutted, leaving little trace of the former leather bar.
He also told Luna, “You’ve been a great operator,” and noted she even had a letter of support from a nearby funeral home.
“I do struggle” with the third-floor addition, he said, but the building doesn’t have an official historical rating.
After some discussion of height limits in the area, he said the proposed third floor “respects the existing structure as it is, and I support the project.”
He did add the condition of having a double door for people entering and leaving the building “to keep the sound in,” and a six-month review “for the neighbors.”
Commissioner Mike Antonini said it “sounds like a good project” but suggested another condition – having “some recognition” inside the building of the site’s historic significance. With their approval, the other commissioners agreed.
Luna said that after the meeting, she spoke with Talley, who hadn’t approached her about her plans before.
“I told him I’d be happy to do a plaque,” she said. “… I’m hoping we can work something out together.”