Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 12 / 22 March 2018

Police to meet Thursday with Eagle Tavern site owner

A San Francisco Police Department inspector plans to meet with the owner of the former Eagle Tavern property Thursday morning, November 17.

Inspector Dave Falzon wouldn’t say exactly when the meeting is, explaining, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for me” to get into that.

The fate of 398 12th Street (seen at left, earlier this year) remains unclear. Eagle owners John Gardiner and Joseph Banks shut down the bar in April, saying they were losing money. They were also facing a lawsuit from landlord John Nikitopoulos over unpaid rent.

Nikitopoulos filed an application with the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control in August to transfer the license from a closed Mission neighborhood restaurant to the Eagle site. That license could be changed to a liquor license. Gardiner and Banks owned the Eagle liquor license, which has expired.

The South of Market neighborhood tavern was well known for Sunday afternoon beer busts that raised money for numerous LGBT organizations over the years.

In an October 13 letter to the state ABC’s local office bearing the names of Falzon and Police Chief Greg Suhr, police recommended denying transfer of the license.

“The Department protests this license as it would create or add to a law enforcement problem and/or an undue concentration of licenses,” the letter, a copy of which the ABC provided to the Bay Area Reporter, says. “It would also create problems and be a nuisance to the neighboring community.”

But in an interview, Falzon said the letter represents “a standard response to allow us an opportunity to reach out to both the community and the business operator.”

Falzon said he’s been at his job for 12 years and indicated that he couldn’t recall having problems with the Eagle. Among other issues, Falzon said that he wants to talk to Nikitopoulos about what type of bar he’s planning, whether it’s a neighborhood, sports, or gay bar.

“We’re looking at the impact on the community,” Falzon said.

For example, he said, if the plan is to convert the site to a sports bar “and put in 50 big screen televisions and other things … that could adversely impact the community. Those are things we want to look at and go in with our eyes open.”

Nikitopoulos has never responded to numerous interview requests from the B.A.R. A recording  on his cell phone today said that the mailbox was full.

Falzon said usually, once police meet with the involved parties “we amend our denial letter.”

“Ultimately, this will go before the Board of Supervisors,” he said.

In April, Supervisor Jane Kim – whose District 6 includes the Eagle space – along with out gay Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos sent the police a letter asking them to closely scrutinize any transfer of the liquor license for the bar.

In September, Kim told the B.A.R. that the license issue “is not something we’d legislate, but something we hope would come from the community.”

Falzon said outreach to the community has included letters sent out to residents living within 500 feet of the Eagle building, and a posting at the site. A formal community meeting isn’t planned, he said, but “If there’s interest, we’ll always have meetings. That’s what we do. We’re a community police department.”

In an October 25 letter he sent to the ABC, Clyde Wildes, who lives near the Eagle site, also expressed concern about the transfer.

“The owner has not shared his operational plans with the neighborhood,” Wildes wrote in the letter, which he shared on the Save the Eagle Tavern Facebook page. “I have a strong interest in having the 398 12th Street space operate in the same manner as the previous operation catering to the same clientele. The previous operation existed for over 30 years without problems.”

Falzon said that within the Eagle site’s census tract (0177), there are 33 active liquor on-sale licenses, which cover businesses like bars and restaurants. The state allows only seven.

“We are over the state recommended average, but I would caution that that’s very common in San Francisco,” Falzon said. And apparently San Franciscans like to drink. He said the city has almost 3,800 active liquor licenses within its 49 square miles.

“There’s nowhere in California like that,” he said.

— Seth Hemmelgarn, November 16, 2011 @ 5:35 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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