Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 42 / 19 October 2017
 

Nightclub planned
for leather bar site

NEWS


s.hemmelgarn@ebar.com

The gutted second floor bar space at 1501 Folsom Street, the former home of Febe's leather bar and the Paradise Lounge, is set to be remodeled for a nightclub. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)
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The building that once housed the historic leather bar Febe's in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood will be transformed into a nightclub featuring salsa music and a restaurant with rooftop seating if a business owner with LGBT ties has her way.

Leticia Luna, who opened the former leather bar Line Up in 1979, is set to go before the city's planning commission Thursday, September 18 to get permission to add another story to 1501 Folsom Street, which is currently two floors and is located at the intersection of Folsom and 11th streets. She plans to call the bar Calle Once, or "Eleventh Street."

Once known as the Miracle Mile for its plethora of leather bars, the vicinity is now home to just a handful of gay bars. Febe's was the first leather bar on Folsom when it opened its doors in 1966. The bar closed 20 years later. The space most recently housed Paradise Lounge, which shut down several years ago.

Luna, 61, who's straight, recalled going to Febe's and similar bars decades ago and is open to including the leather community in her new business.

"The leather crowd put me on the map," she said. "How can I ever forget them? I would love to have a leather night, with somebody that could help me promote it. It's going to be a nice space."

Thursday, the planning commission is expected to vote on a conditional use proposal "to expand the existing nighttime entertainment use" and "establish an outdoor activity area," according to the agenda. The results would include a third story and a roof deck.

Department records say, "Areas dedicated to dancing and performances will be kept on the first and second floors."

Planning staff has issued a preliminary recommendation that the commission approve the usage with conditions.

Luna, who hopes to open the new space in July, is currently the landlord for the Castro sports bar Hi-Tops and the restaurant Hecho.

"I've been approached by a couple people" to bring in drag acts to her new business, she said. "I'm very open to that. I love all that."

Luna plans to make the first and second floors a nightclub, while the third floor would be for a rooftop restaurant. She'd like to bring salsa bands to the club, and she's considering a fusion of Mexican and seafood dishes for the restaurant.

On the second floor, "I plan to have different types of entertainment," she said.

"I'm very open," Luna said. "It's what the public wants, I will do, and I listen to the public."

She said "a small portion" of the top floor would be for outdoor dining, dependent on "what the city's going to allow." She'd work to deaden sound coming from the area.

Department of Building Inspection data show that the agency issued a permit in May for the "soft" demolition of damaged sheetrock, floor finishes, and other materials, and "exploratory" demolition of the walls and ceiling "for future structural strengthening."

Since then, the interior of the building has been gutted, and Luna invited the Bay Area Reporter to the space for a tour this week. About all that remains of the interior are cinderblock, exposed beams and studs, and barren floors.

According to the planning department, John A. and Linda Andreini purchased the site, including the land, in 2009 for a total of about $2.2 million.

Luna wouldn't say how much she's paying for the building, but she estimated the sale would be final by November.

John Andreini didn't directly respond to an interview request, but Henry Chen, chief financial officer for Andreini and Company, said the sale is in escrow, and "it will be complete in the next couple months." He wouldn't say how much Luna's paying.

 

Mike Talley, left, was joined by Carl Housh and Michael Taglieri-Housh at a small rally Talley organized at the site of the former Febe's bar and the Paradise Lounge. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

Protest

According to the planning department, the project has received little opposition. But San Francisco resident Mike Talley, 57, staged a small protest outside the building Saturday, September 13 that he estimated drew 10 people. Talley, a self-described "gay leatherman," believes Luna plans to demolish the site of the former Febe's.

Asked whether she'd be tearing down the building, Luna said, "Of course not." Planning records don't include any mention of taking down the building, for which Luna would have to apply for a separate permit.

Talley thinks Luna will demolish the building because he said that's what she tried to do to the former Rawhide bar on Seventh Street several years ago.

But Luna said, "I never had anything to do with the Rawhide," and data from the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control's website don't show Luna was ever involved with that business. The records show the liquor license expired in 2009 when the venue was known as Rawhide II.

Talley never went to Febe's himself. "It had already closed by the time I moved to San Francisco" in 1989, he said.

The planning commission meeting is at noon Thursday at City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 400. For more information, visit http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=3916.






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