SF supervisors' panel recommends Stud's Davis for entertainment commission

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Monday February 12, 2024
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Maria Davis, left, and Anthony Schlander were recommended for two vacancies on the San Francisco Entertainment Commission. Photos: Screengrabs
Maria Davis, left, and Anthony Schlander were recommended for two vacancies on the San Francisco Entertainment Commission. Photos: Screengrabs

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors Rules Committee voted unanimously to recommend a co-owner of the Stud LGBTQ bar to the San Francisco Entertainment Commission February 12.

The committee voted 3-0 in favor of Maria Davis. If approved by the full board, Davis would fill seat No. 2, which was made vacant by the departure of queer Latino man Stephen Torres, who is running for District 9 supervisor.

Davis, a queer woman, was one of four people who applied for the open seat. The others were AjaiNicole Duncan, a queer DJ and performer; Benjamin McGrath, a queer trans man and a bartender at El Rio who'd been the manager and event planner at the now-shuttered Lexington Club; and Chris Hastings, a gay man and owner of the Lookout LGBTQ bar in the Castro.

Speaking to the supervisors, Davis, who also owns St. Mary's Pub on the edge of Bernal Heights, and the other candidates all agreed that the city's nightlife scene needs revitalization.

"I've seen conflict between nightlife and surrounding communities, but I've also seen collaboration," she said. "I know the experiences and struggles in the nightlife community, but I've never been one to sit back and watch. I know what nightlife needs right now, and I am motivated and enthusiastic."

Current District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who chairs the committee, suggested Davis because "people closely related to the entertainment community who I have spoken with have raved about her and her commitment."

She and fellow committee member Ahsha Safaí (D11) praised all of the applicants.

"This is about the hardest choice that I've made in a long time, that we've made in a long time," Ronen said. "I very much want to work with the rest of you about other leadership opportunities in San Francisco, but that's where I sit."

Safaí said that nightlife brings people from the surrounding communities to San Francisco.

"People come here because they want to go to the Stud, because they want to go to El Rio, because they want to go to Lookout," he said. "These places make San Francisco special."

All the applicants came and gave their pitches in person, except Hastings, whose statement was read by a representative. The candidates painted a picture of an industry as affected as any by San Francisco's post-COVID lull.

"I believe strongly we are a world class city with less than world class nightlife," Hastings' statement read. "The recent decline in tourism is deeply negatively impacting this industry in a way that is still unfolding."

Duncan said that it was great to see some of that buzz come back February 11, when the San Francisco 49ers were in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, the Niners had a 25-22 overtime loss.

"I want to see our city operating till two at night again," Duncan said. "I feel a lot of bars don't operate on Sundays or Mondays anymore, and it would be great to see our nightlife community go back to what it was."

McGrath said he has knowledge of all the applicants and would have faith in any of them.

"I happen to know all the people running for this seat and I consider them all phenomenal, quality people," McGrath said.

The term for seat No. 2, which is reserved for the interests of entertainment groups and associations, ends July 1, 2026.

The panel also unanimously voted to forward to the board applicant Anthony Schlander, a San Francisco-based event planner, to seat No. 1, for which the term expires July 1, 2027. The seat is reserved for the interests of neighborhood groups and associations.

"With over 20 years in live entertainment, I've played a small role in enhancing our city's environment and cultural scene," he said. "My commitment to San Francisco extends beyond entertainment. I'm deeply into community service."

According to his application, Schlander, who was the only applicant for the seat, is of Filipino heritage and has worked as an event producer. He also sits on the board of City Eats, which works to address food insecurity.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported the Stud is planning on reopening in a new location later this year at 1123 Folsom Street. Its previous location at the corner of Ninth and Harrison streets shuttered in 2020. A co-op collective that had bought the bar in 2016 vowed that it would return.

The full board is expected to vote on the two nominees at its February 27 meeting. The supervisors do not meet February 20 due to the Presidents Day holiday.

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