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

SF supervisors ask police to scrutinize Eagle bar liquor license transfer

Three San Francisco supervisors sent the police a letter today requesting them to closely scrutinize any transfer of the liquor license for gay bar the Eagle Tavern.

The home to a well-loved Sunday beer bust, which raises money for numerous LGBT groups, (as seen in the photo at right) its owners have been trying to sell it for more than a year.

Now the SOMA nightspot is slated to close April 29 due to a lease dispute between the landlord and two people who wish to buy the bar. As the Bay Area Reporter reported, the owner of lesbian bar the Lexington Club, Lila Thirkield, and Eagle manager Ron Hennis had been in escrow to buy the Eagle but the deal was abruptly ended by property owner John Nikitopoulos.

Now Steve Englebrecht, the straight owner of the Skylark Bar near 16th and Mission streets, is reportedly buying the liquor license. The news has rattled the LGBT community, which is rallying to try to save the Eagle to ensure it remains a gay establishment.

Gay Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos, plus Supervisor Jane Kim, whose District 6 includes the property at 12th and Harrison Streets where the Eagle is located, are assisting those efforts. The trio signed an April 14 letter addressed to acting Police Chief Jeff Godown requesting his help.

“We understand that any alcohol license transfer will come to the San Francisco Police Department for review, in connection with review by California Alcohol Beverage Control. This transfer may or may not come to the Board of Supervisors for approval, depending on the nature of the transfer,” wrote the supervisors. “We request that SFPD closely scrutinize, consistent with applicable legal standards, any requested liquor license transfer relating to the Eagle to ensure that any such transfer will not harm the LGBT community by putting an end to the Eagle.”

It is unclear what powers, if any, the police have to block a liquor license transfer for such a reason. And while the state ABC does take public input under advisement, its relationship with the local entertainment industry and LGBT leaders has been rocky over the last several years.

But the public pressure from elected officials could prove to be persuasive.

As the supervisors state in their letter to Godown, they “are adamantly opposed to any sale that would result in the Eagle’s destruction.”

— Matthew S. Bajko, April 14, 2011 @ 4:07 pm PST
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