The collective of activists and cabaret artists that are battling to save San Francisco gay club The Stud, which has been running for 50 years, has announced that it has secured the venue’s future for at least the next couple of years.
However, after that time, they will be looking to find a new home for the bar.
In September we reported how The Stud, on Harrison and Ninth Street, was facing closure. Its long-term owner announced that he was facing a steep rent increase and had decided to retire to Hawaii to care for his mother.
A group of regulars stepped forward to form a collective, Save Our Stud (SOS) and put together a bid to take over the venue and turn its fortunes around.
They were hoping to take over the running of the bar by late October, but the signing of ownership papers will now take place 30 December 2016.
Despite this delay, plans to save the venue have been progressing. At the end of November, the group met with the Small Business Commission at San Francisco City Hall to register the venue for Legacy Designation.
Introduced in 2015, these legacy grants are designed to help preserve San Francisco’s historic neighborhoods. Once a long-running business achieves legacy designation, it is entitled to specific city grants.
Following this success at City Hall, the collective held a meeting last week to announce future plans.
‘We are excited to announce that we successfully negotiated a two-year lease at reasonable rent!’ said the group in a statement.
‘Our initial goal was to purchase the Stud and continue its legacy for as long as we could at its current location. With the newly negotiated lease ending in just two more years, we knew it wouldn’t be long before the threat of eviction was at our door again.
‘Inspired by the tenacity of the Stud and the parties it hosts, we moved beyond our expectations and dreams. We are in negotiations for a long term lease at a nearby location.
‘We may be in a new building in two years’ time, but we are committed to making this new space Our Stud.
They point out that this wouldn’t be the first time that The Stud has relocated.
‘It first opened its doors on Folsom and Norfolk in 1966 where it stayed for 21 years before moving to its current location at Ninth and Harrison. That move did not dampen the Stud’s spirit or lessen its heart.
‘In fact, it propelled the legend of the Stud to new heights. The move started a new era for the Stud, and the Stud didn’t just survive, it thrived.’
To help raise funds towards moving the business in two years’ time, the group will be holding regular fundraising activities. They set up a fundraising page, with a target of $500,000, and are selling Save Our Stud merchandise.
They have not yet announced where the new ‘nearby’ location might be but, according to SFist, are hoping to make a further announcement in mid-January.
They will celebrate taking over ownership with a ‘Champagne Poppers‘ party on New Year’s Eve.
San Francisco, like other major LGBTI hotspots, has experienced a raft of closures of venues in the last decade. The internet and dating apps have changed the way people meet, while escalating real estate prices have driven small businesses from desirable areas.
‘Who can deny a drag queen in need?’
Asked if the $500,000 figure was going to be challenging, Marke Bieschke, an SF-based journalist, publisher and member of the SOS co-operative told GSN: ‘While the $500,000 seems daunting at first glance, we have received such a huge wave of positive feedback from the community that we’re hopeful we’ll meet it in the months ahead.
‘Now that we’ve negotiated a two-year lease at our current home, we’ve got a strong base from which to throw festive fundraising parties, increase awareness of the effort through outreach and collaboration with other organizations, and prove to the world that a queer cooperative business model can work. Plus, who can deny a drag queen in need?
‘We’re confident that our global community – which is facing a crisis in disappearing safe queer spaces – has our backs.’