For the past few weeks, a group of San Franciscans has been vocally fighting to save the Gold Dust Lounge, a 79-year-old bar currently facing eviction to make way for an Express store. The bar has hosted widely attended fundraisers, sued the landlords and filed for landmark status all in the past two months, but it might soon be last call for the Gold Dust.
On Thursday, in a last-ditch effort, the bar released an eight-minute video documenting the history of the bar, drawing attention to its historical importance.
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"When I come into the Gold Dust Lounge and I sit down and I have an Irish Coffee, I look across the street and I see Nike, I see Gucci, I see Lush, H&M, Sketchers. I see corporate building after corporate building with no personality," said documentarian Patron in the video. "And it makes me think about how unfortunate gentrification is as a process. We're losing all of the things that makes us who we are."
The tale of the Gold Dust Lounge is especially compelling since the owners have reportedly not missed a rent payment or violated their lease. But rather, the Gold Dust Lounge's attorney alleges the landlord used "trickery and deceit" to force the owners out by failing to mention amendments to their lease.
"The little guy has no chance now," said owner Tasio Bovis. "Some big corporation comes in and spends $4 or 5 million dollars, upgrades the building, guts the building. They don't understand small business."
In his column in the San Francisco Chronicle, former mayor Willie Brown outlined the importance of the historic bar:
People have been asking me what the big deal is about the threat of the Gold Dust Lounge on Powell Street being bounced for a clothing store. First up, it has character, and character is what makes this city fabulous. The Gold Dust was where a merchant seaman could pick up his mail. It was Herb Caen playing drums with the band at last call, or me singing along out of key. It’s a piece of San Francisco!
Second, the Gold Dust would be evicted to make room for another chain clothing store, and another chain clothing store is the last thing we need near Union Square. I don’t want to interfere with the capitalist system, but I do think there are some things for which capitalists should make accommodations. The Gold Dust is one of them.
Check out the Gold Dust Lounge's new video below, and stop by on Friday night for dollar vodkas and an appearance by Willie Brown: