Stud bar seeks new space
by Seth Hemmelgarn
San Francisco's iconic Stud bar, the tavern at 399 Ninth Street that was recently faced with a dramatic rent increase, is seeking a new home again after a tentative deal on another location fell through.
Marke Bieschke, a spokesman for the Save Our Stud collective, made up of DJs, performers, and others who recently bought the bar's liquor license, said the group had been working on a deal to move to a warehouse "about a block away," but the landlord for that space wouldn't agree to a 10-year lease.
The city's Small Business Commission recently granted legacy business status for the Stud, which opened at 1535 Folsom Street in 1966. Among other benefits, a legacy business's landlord may get grant money, but to get such funds, the business needs to have a 10-year lease.
"We're optimistic that we will find a new space, and we're doing everything we can to look at places within the historic leather district," Bieschke said.
The collective has a two-year lease on the current site.
The purchase of the bar, and its proposed move to a new location, came about after the building was sold and the new owners announced a 300 percent rent increase. Then-owner Michael McElhaney announced he planned to retire.
Bieschke said his group is hoping to stay in the neighborhood and find "an older building," rather than a recently constructed site that would feel like a TGI Fridays with "wacky queer vintage memorabilia inside a shiny new building."
He couldn't say how much the collective is currently paying on the lease, but he said, "it's less than the almost triple the rent they wanted to charge" McElhaney. The group is ideally looking to pay in the $5,000 to $10,000 a month range.
The bar was the original home of the long-running Trannyshack, and the weekly Some Thing show, which is soon to become a monthly event, has drawn crowds for years.
Bieschke said that besides the legacy business grants, the collective also wanted a 10-year lease because "if we were going to spend $300,000 to $400,000 building things out and eight months of our time, a five-year lease would not have been worth it."
The collective has paused its crowdfunding campaign at http://www.gofundme.com/save-our-stud, but still plans to do fundraisers. As of Tuesday, January 3, just over $1,600 of the $500,000 goal had been raised.