Business Briefs: Lease signedfor Oakland LGBT bar
by Cynthia Laird
Two gay Oakland men are moving ahead with their plans to open an LGBT bar in the city's hot Uptown neighborhood and have signed a lease on the building next to the Paramount Theatre.
Sean Sullivan and his partner, Richard Fuentes, announced the lease signing last week for what will be called the Port bar, at 2021 Broadway, in the former Ragsmatazz shoe store, which has been vacant for over a decade. The lease was signed with Alameda Bayfarm LLC, which acquired the building about a year ago. Ramsey Wright of Colliers and Cynthia Lee of Cassidy Turley partnered on the deal.
"The Paramount has 130 shows a year, which even if their shows break even, means they have 1,100 people there," Fuentes said in a statement. "We would be at capacity if 10 percent came in for a before or after drink."
Fuentes added that they have informally surveyed the crowds and found a substantial LGBT customer base.
Sullivan said the location is one of a few that is not already under development or under contract to be under development.
"It really limited our options but we had great brokers and in the end we secured what may be the very best location in all of Oakland, next to the Paramount Theatre," Sullivan said.
The men credited a crowdfunding campaign they held late last year, which raised the funds to secure the lease. The campaign had a goal of $25,000 and Sullivan said that over 80 people joined in the effort.
"It was a slog but on the morning of the last day, Oakland developer Phil Tagami stepped in with a $5,000 contribution and that really rallied a lot more folks in the final 12 hours," Sullivan said.
Lee said that the LGBT community in Oakland has been waiting for a bar like the Port.
"The existent spaces for this community are large form nightclubs and only open three nights a week," she said in a statement. "This venue will be heterofriendly and is right above BART, which is perfect for commuters that drive the happy hour market."
The next step is approvals from the county health department and the Oakland Planning Commission, which Sullivan and Fuentes hope to secure by mid-Spring.
Sullivan and Fuentes are no strangers to Oakland's LGBT community; both men ran for public office in 2012 but came up short in their bids for city council and school board, respectively.
The Port bar is still looking for community support and the campaign can now be found at www.portbaroakland.com.