UPDATE: No sooner than it appeared that the Eagle could be landing (finally) again in San Francisco after a years-long hiatus, its wings were clipped.
Earlier this week the owners of the famous gay bar in the city’s South of Market neighborhood had hoped to reopen as soon as this Friday, February 15. Invites went out for beer bust events this Saturday, February 16 and Monday, February 18.
The Bears of San Francisco posted a note to their Saturday fundraising event’s Facebook page that “after some conflicting building inspectors’ judgements” the SF Eagle would not open by the weekend. They moved their beer bust to Castro bar 440.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were also forced to cancel their event initially planned for Monday.
Thursday afternoon SF Eagle owners Mike Leon and Alex Montiel apologized for the postponement on the bar’s Facebook page and said they are “moving forward with our plans to open as soon as possible.”
They added, “We sincerely apologize for this turn of events, but some things are simply out of our control.”
There had been some indication that the doors to the SF Eagle would remain shut awhile longer. As a Bay Area Reporter blog post Wednesday, February 13 noted, the bar’s owners had not officially announced the return of the business. As word spread about the beer busts, the bar’s website (a screen grab of which is above at right) continued to say only that the bar would “open soon.” An online calendar remained blank.
“We are currently in the process of making many repairs to the property, inside and out. There will be quite a few changes made to the bar, they were either required in order to to be code compliant, or suggested to create a better experience,” the website explains.
Word about the watering hole’s imminent return began to spread earlier this month after the Bears of San Francisco started to promote its beer bust.
In a note posted on Facebook Monday, one of the organizers, Tim Butler, said he had spoken with the owners last week and that the event “is still looking like it will be a go. They anticipate being open maybe Friday evening, but definitely on Saturday.”
Wednesday afternoon the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence followed suit and announced their own beer bust at the bar on Presidents’ Day to raise money for the nonprofit SF Beautiful.
“That’s right, The Eagle is opening this weekend and we are so proud to be a part of it by hosting one of our popular beer busts on President’s Day. Come celebrate with the crowd that made the Eagle legendary and salute the new owners who have poured their heart and soul to bring back this space back that is loved by many,” stated the Facebook page for the event, which has since been taken down.
The bar at 398 12th Street shut down in April 2011 after a rent dispute between the former owners and the landlord. The closure sparked wide protest within the LGBT community and even attracted the attention of City Hall.
An attempt by several straight bar operators to reopen the bar was derided by backers of seeing the Eagle be kept as a gay-owned institution. Last September that wish was fulfilled when it was announced that Leon and Montiel had taken over the bar and signed a lease with property owner John Nikitopoulos.
Plans to reopen last fall quickly were pushed back, though, and a rumored New Year’s Eve opening fizzled. The need for a new roof on the building caused the opening to be delayed.
“Over the next few weeks we will be updating this website as much as we can,” state the owners on the bar’s website. “We would like to thank all of those who helped us save this space from abandonment, to make the SF Eagle a reality.”
The Eagle’s revival can’t come soon enough for those worried about seeing western SOMA losing its gay heritage. Since its heyday in the 1970s when Folsom Street was referred to as the Miracle Mile for its vast collection of gay bars, the area has dwindled down to a few surviving bars and leather retailers.
Sex club Mack Folsom Prison near the intersection of 9th and Folsom closed down last year. And last week it was revealed that Kok, a gay bar down the block, is being sold to new owners.
According to Grubstreet the place will be renamed Driftwood and the co-owners – one gay the other straight – aim for it to be a gay-friendly cocktail lounge.