The last-ever last call was set for Wednesday night at Union Square’s embattled Gold Dust Lounge, where owners are packing up and headed for a new home in another tourist-laden center across town — Fisherman’s Wharf.
The octogenarian Bovis brothers, who have owned the business for 47 years, refused to leave in March when their lease expired. But with Wednesday’s announcement that it’s time to go, the building owners will get their wish of being able to move in an Express clothing store instead.
It was bittersweet news for supporters of the storied bar’s underdog effort to hold its ground, but Gold Dust spokesman Lee Housekeeper said the Gold Dust’s rebirth at the wharf in four months or so should be a happy occasion.
“The band will play on,” Housekeeper said, adding that current bar staff will remain intact and work for now at a Gold-Dust-in-exile at Lefty O’Doul’s, which also is owned by the Bovis brothers. “It’s a wonderful transition. You don’t get a new lease on life often.”
Housekeeper wouldn’t reveal the exact location of the new Gold Dust, only that it will be triple the size of the Powell Street site and that all the kitschy murals and metal Old West chandeliers will be part of the move.
Board of Supervisors President David Chiu made the announcement, noting that “the saloon doors are going to keep swinging” and the “Gold Dust Lounge will live forever.” Despite the announcement of the move, revelers chanted “we saved the Gold Dust” at a send-off event Wednesday afternoon.
Of course, there’s still the little matter of the lawsuits, which flew freely throughout the spring as the owners turned to the courts in an attempt to complete the eviction, and the brothers also sued, claiming such transgressions as “elder abuse” in a recent round of lease negotiations.
Sam Singer, who has been locked in an epic war of words with his fellow PR titan Housekeeper, estimated that the Bovis brothers owe “tens of thousands” in delinquent rent and other fees related to violating the terms of the lease.
“They should have left when the lease ran out,” Singer said. “And they will pay the price for that.”
Housekeeper doesn’t see it that way. He threatened additional legal action against the building owners and surmised that it would be the Bovises who will be owed the stack of money.
Whatever the outcome, the highly publicized fight has ended with what the old school bar patrons see as the end to a non-tourist culture on Powell Street.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes, and now we got a union for squares!” exclaimed longtime patron “Bear.” “It used to be ours, now you got all yuppies.”