SF Castro's Badlands to close permanently

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday July 30, 2020
Share this Post:
Badlands bar in the Castro has closed permanently, according to a post on its Facebook page Thursday. Photo: Courtesy Twitter
Badlands bar in the Castro has closed permanently, according to a post on its Facebook page Thursday. Photo: Courtesy Twitter

The Castro nightclub Badlands at 4121 18th Street will not be reopening, according to a post on its Facebook page.

"Badlands bar is closed. Later this fall a new bar, under new ownership, will open in the Badlands location," the Thursday morning post states. "The name of the new bar and other details will be announced later, closer to the opening date."

The post goes on to state that the opening of the new bar is scheduled for late fall, depending upon what COVID-19 restrictions are in effect at that time.

Badlands owner Les Natali did not respond to a request for comment.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, the bar had been under renewed criticism in recent months due to allegations of racial discrimination.

A 2004 report by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission found that Badlands was discriminating against African Americans, but the findings were never official because the HRC executive director at the time did not sign off on the staff report. Natali and the complainants eventually reached a confidential settlement.

Natali later opened Toad Hall on the site of what had been the Pendulum, a bar that catered to Black LGBTQs.

In an email June 6, after this was brought up at a Black Lives Matter protest in Jane Warner Plaza, Natali wrote that the allegations "were found without merit and were dropped."

"We welcome people of all races and all colors and we probably have the largest, most diverse clientele of any bar in the Castro," he added.

Badlands originally opened as a country western bar in 1974. Natali acquired it in 1999, when it became a video bar.

Natali remains on the bar's liquor license, which expires February 28, 2021, according to state records. The license for Toad Hall expires July 31.

As the B.A.R. previously reported, TJ Bruce, managing partner at Sacramento Badlands in the state capital, co-managed the Detour bar (not to be confused with the arcade bar and restaurant of the same name at Market and 15th streets, this Detour was on the site now occupied by Beaux) in the early 2000s. He also owns LGBTQ bars in Reno and San Jose.

When reached by the B.A.R. for a comment via phone July 30, Bruce said that although he has worked with Natali for many years and knew he was "making some changes," he doesn't have further comment at this time.

Updated, 7/30/20: This story has been updated.

Editor's note: If you liked this article, help out our freelancers and staff, and keep the B.A.R. going in these tough times. For info, visit our Indiegogo campaign. To donate, simply claim a perk!