Gold Dust Lounge fighting for its history

Turns out the Gold Dust Lounge just isn’t historical enough, at least that’s what the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission determined this week.

On Wednesday the Historic Preservation Commission officially decided in a 5-2 vote not to designate the popular bar as a historic landmark because it didn’t meet the written criteria for historic preservation.

Supporters of the 47-year-old SF bar were hoping that if The City designated it as a historical landmark then it would make it more difficult for the bar’s landlord to evict them. And while the bar owners, Jim and Tasios Bovis, weren’t banking on the landmark status to save the bar, it would have given them a little more time to fight the eviction.

Gold Dust’s landlord, the Handlery family, told the bar back in December that they had three months to pack their beers up and head out before an Express clothing store took the iconic bar’s place. Since the bar received their eviction notice, there has been a significant amount of public outcry in support of the bar.

Now in all this debacle, the Bovis brothers, both in their 80s, are suing the Handlery family for breach of contract and elder abuse, while the Handlery family is suing the brother’s back for not evicting the building.

The popular bar bought some time in late March when the preservation commission deadlocked with a 3-3 vote due to Commissioner Andrew Wolfram absence. In Wednesday’s meeting, Wolfram sided with the majority against granting the bar landmark status, saying:

“I don’t believe this initiation of landmark designation will make a difference.”

But don’t worry, the lights aren’t going out on the bar yet. Supervisor Christina Olague plans to introduce legislation next week to designate the Gold Dust Lounge a historic landmark, which would override the Historic Preservation Commission. Supervisor Christina Olague said:

“I think that it’s important that we continue to preserve pieces of old San Francisco.”

And apparently other bars want to jump on the bandwagon – Lee Houskeeper, a spokesman for the Bovises, said the bar’s supporters are going to try to get Lefty O’Doul’s historical landmark status as well. The bar, which is just around the corner from the Gold Dust, is also owned by the Handlery family and run by the Bovis family. Its lease is not up for at least another decade, but I suppose supporters just want to make sure the entire area’s history doesn’t get swallowed by retail shops.

Until all these dirty details are ironed out, Gold Dust Lounge will still be pouring drinks.