Endangered

Gold Dust Lounge Not Evicted (Yet)!

No last call for the Gold Dust! At least for now...
No last call for the Gold Dust! At least for now… Photo: Brian Smeets/Grub Street

The arguably historic, unarguably beloved Gold Dust Lounge on Union Square got its first reprieve this weekend when threats of padlocking by the building’s owners on the scheduled eviction date did not come to pass. The bar held a “No Last Call” party all day Saturday in lieu of being evicted, and patrons were treated to $1 “Vitamin V” (vodka) drinks in the afternoon, as well as ten hours of live music. As the Chron reports, there’s been an escalating war of words between supporters and a spokesman for the Handlerys, who own the building (e.g. “Just because they claim that Janis Joplin once vomited there doesn’t make it historic.”); the Board of Supervisors is still mulling an intervention; and lawyers continue to negotiate on both sides based on the lawsuit filed by the Gold Dust’s owners on February 23. But for now, the place is temporarily saved, as we suspected it might be.

Most interesting to us, we finally have a bit more clarification on the history of the place, which we knew had been a bar continuously since 1918, and throughout Prohibition. Basically it’s a throwback to a time when Powell Street was a lot seedier, and had more burlesque joints and saloons. Per the Chron:

The 1,100-square-foot space has been a drinking establishment since 1918, when it was the Techau Tavern. It was purportedly a gin joint during Prohibition that was raided several times. It remained a saloon under different names and owners during and after World War II and became Bustles & Beaus in 1960, a burlesque spot that the Bovis family said Bing Crosby once had a stake in, a claim that Singer dismissed as false.

When Jim Bovis took over [in 1965], there was a gold-plated pole for fun-loving ladies and a painting on the ceiling with semi-naked nymphs and cherubs, a feature that exists today. Jim’s brother Tasios, who is 82, bought into the bar a few years after his brother opened the doors.

Supervisor Christine Olague also gives some hints as to what the Board of Supervisors might be seeking to do, legislatively, to prevent the space from becoming an Express retail outlet. She appears to be arguing that despite the bar not having a specific reason to receive landmark status, it represents part of “the character and personality of San Francisco — the heart and soul of the city… [And] There isn’t a lot of the historic fabric left in that area, and we shouldn’t just let it dwindle away.” Perhaps they can have the place protected as part of a historic district or something? As always, we look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Update: Jon Handlery has filed a lawsuit of his own against the Bovises, which is technically just the first step in what could be a months’ long eviction process. [Scoop]

BREAKING: No Last Call for the Gold Dust! [SFist]
Gold Dust Lounge Serving Drinks, Defiance [Examiner]
Gold Dust Lounge owners refuse to shut place down [Chron]
Earlier: Take a Tour of the Historic Gold Dust Lounge (While You Still Can)
Gold Dust Lounge Files Suit Against Landlords, Alleges Elder Abuse
Gold Dust Lounge Does Not Quite Get Reprieve from Preservationists, But the Fight Is Far From Over

Gold Dust Lounge Not Evicted (Yet)!