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April 3rd, 2007 - short bus to gay school [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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April 3rd, 2007

The Hole In The Wall Saloon .....SOS [Apr. 3rd, 2007|10:12 am]
There is so much information I am leaving out because I am tired and frustrated at this whole thing. The Guardian will be running a story on it soon too. Right now things look bleak. I know some people would say "good riddance" to what they think is a just a "tweaker bar", or in some cases have only heard it was, but I for one don't want to see it go. That place is really deep for me and a lot of other people, which I will do my best to explain why in the next day or so. But, it is a living, breathing work of art. The location of it means nothing to it's philosophy and thats what I don't want to see die. There is also the fact, if we lose The Hole In The Wall, The Eagle won't be too far behind. This is one of many reasons I haven't posted much lately.

Over the last six months or so, my bosses, John Gardiner and Joe Banks, have been renovating what is to become the new home of the Hole In The Wall Saloon. For the last 13 years they have been leasing the space the bar is currently in at 8th and Folsom. Some years back, it was discovered that termites have been eating the building and have been at it for some time. Rather than putting money into a building that was under a lease, they started scouting for one to buy in the same general area. They finally bought a new place located on Folsom near 10th. It would be near Powerhouse and about a block and half from the original bar.

The renovation started, retrofitting, wheelchair access, retaining wall for the patio, etc. The costs to bring it up to code and repairs are at about $250,000 (not including the building) Sometime in January (or around then) a guy named Jim Meko, who owns a shop nearby and is on the SF Entertainment Commission, delivered a letter to John and Joe stating that he had requested a critical revue of the proposed building and John and Joe's business practices for the last 13 years at both the Hole In The Wall and The Eagle Tavern, which they own as well. This was to block the "Transfer Of License Address" for the Hole. At the first hearing, Jim Meko stated before the board of Supervisors: "Don't trust these guys, they are bad bar owners" and the review was underway.

You know, I have worked for John and Joe for 5 years, I have known them for more. They are great guys, are not negligent about bar business and do their best to respond and remedy neighbor complaints. They also do try and keep the bars within code and city ordinances (hey, when do you see porn on our tv's?, its against the law ....what about the rest of the bars in the area?). As employers, yeah they can be a pain in the ass but whatever, what boss isn't? I still behind these guys 100% I also don't know how many bar owners offer health insurance to every employee (full time/part time). They are deeply rooted in San Francisco, care about its culture, preserving its character and do what they can to support art and music here in SF. Hell, if you have ever hung out with any of the staff, you know we are more like family than guys who just work together, and I think that says a lot for John and Joe's character.

So, whatever your experience or opinions of the Hole In The Wall Saloon are, what I would like to let you all know about here is how the gay community cuts off its nose to spite its face.

Jim Meko, the guy who started all this shit is a customer of both bars, not a regular but we all recognized him. He would come in and bitch about the music at the Hoie, telling us to turn it down. This was not because of the volume, which yeah, I'll cop to it being way too loud sometime, but he would bitch because he couldn't hear the mumbles and slurs clear enough of whatever he was trying to trick with. He also has a blog or two. I love his wishy-washy, faux diplomacy with a dash of concern. A man who loves art and music and counter-culture yet completely unsympathetic to artists and musicians and the venues that host them ....... as long as it is tucked away somewhere that it can't be seen or heard by any person who is in a position of power or recent SOMA residents who's wallet entitles them to drag the carcass of San Francisco behind their BMW awhile. A condescending twat.

Beyond all of Meko's bitching, he has involved a handful of neighbors who have written letters of protest to the Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the Board Of Supervisors stating they don't want *another* bar in their neighborhood. Ok, lets talk linguistics, this is not *ANOTHER* bar. This bar has been in your neighborhood for 13 years and now wants to move down the street a block and a half. They also cite "a history of permit violations" the specific ones were about the large PA speakers on the patio of the Eagle where we host our "Battle Of The Bands". The one that fucked us up first was that the Hole In The Wall did not have a "Place Of Entertainment" permit to host "professional" DJ's. Which was cleared by the Planning Commission when the bar was opened. Our DJ's are not "presented" to the patrons, they are bar staff and we don't charge a cover. Yet, just because we are being reviewed, Joe had essentially let two people go.

One of these official "Letters Of Protest" to the Alcoholic Beverage Control was from Michael Mcnemee who is the owner of Stompers Boots who bitches about both bars. Though I guess we are alright for when his staff has to a photo shoot.

if you want to know more or discuss, mail me private ..... and there will be another hearing, though I don;t know the date on it.

and sorry, fuck the cut


In this mass of information, I reported as I had understood what was going on. I got a note from Joe with a couple of slight corrections:

"Meko said we were "bad bar owners" at our first (and actually only) meeting with the potential new neighbors back when they had no opinion
about us at all. "

"The whole DJ thing was actually more involved with the police department when we opened. They don't consider what we used to do at the Hole In
The Wall as even having a DJ. It was when this "Entertainment Commission" was formed that things got funny and it was decided (at least by Meko) that the Hole didn't have the proper permits."

and from Meko's profile on sfgov:
"He was involved in drafting the legislation that created the Entertainment Commission and currently serves as a commissioner who represents the interests of the neighborhoods."
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