The owner of the Eagle bar in Dallas is trying to buy San Francisco’s Eagle Tavern, which had been slated to close this month and still faces an uncertain future.
Mark Frazier, 51, said that he and SF Eagle manager Ron Hennis are trying to get property owner John Nikitopoulos “to the bargaining table,” to no avail.
Frazier said they’d buy the liquor license and business outright. But before they can do that, they need to deal with Nikitopoulos, who Frazier said isn’t returning phone calls.
Meanwhile, John Gardiner, the SF Eagle’s owner, said that he’s decided not to sell to Steve Englebrecht, who owns the Skylark bar. The plans had stirred controversy, since San Francisco’s LGBT community feared the change would have meant the end of the Eagle as a hub for gays.
“We’ve decided not to do that,” said Gardiner. “We’ve decided to take the loss if we have to, and see what happens.” He didn’t know how much of a loss that would be, and he said he also didn’t know what kind of timeframe the bar’s looking at.
“I won’t know anything until I hear from the property owner,” said Gardiner. He said the bar hasn’t had a lease “in a long time.”
Hennis said that he spoke with Frazier yesterday. He said he still hasn’t heard from Nikatopolis, either.
Hennis said that he would be the primary buyer of the Eagle.
“The bar in itself is going to be very successful, I have no doubt,” said Frazier. “If a bar operates as an extension of the community it serves, then the community itself wills support the venue.”
He said they’d also want Nikitopoulos to negotiate a long-term agreement. A yearlong lease wouldn’t be enough of “a security blanket,” said Frazier.
Frazier said his chances are “pretty good,” but, he said, “Everything goes back to the property owner. At this point, he holds all the cards. Until he makes the decision about what he wants to do, then nobody else can do anything.”
If Nikitopoulos does become engaged, “This is something that could happen fairly quickly,” said Frazier.
“The San Francisco Eagle has historical ramifications with the LGBT community not only in San Francisco, but throughout the world,” said Frazier.
Frazier, Gardiner, and Hennis wouldn’t discuss financial details about the business, such as how much it’s worth.
“If the property owner would get off his ass and make a decision, everybody else is ready to move forward, and it could move forward very quickly,” said Frazier.
Frazier agreed that if people had gone to the bar more often in the first place, this crisis wouldn’t have happened.
“When somebody owns a bar or business for a long time, they can take the community for granted, and they get tunnel vision, so they’re not as passionate about their business,” said Frazier. “They lose that passion, and in turn the business will see a downturn.”
However, he said, communities in San Francisco and other places, often take businesses and nightclubs for granted, as if “they’re always going to be there,” said Frazier. Instead of going out, they stay home on the Internet, he said.
Frazier expressed a desire to keep the Eagle as part of the LGBT community, and said, “One of the biggest changes I would make is seeking additional community support, and group support.”
Frazier said if he buys the bar, he’ll move to San Francisco. “It’s a dream that’s been mine for a very long time, and I think that it could come to fruition,” he said.