A crowd watches a performance at The Stud Bar's 50th anniversary party. (Rachel Garner/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Iconic SF gay bar facing steep rent hike is sold to a collective

The Stud Bar, a 50-year-old gay bar in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood threatened with closure because of a rent hike, will be sold to a collective that plans to run it as a co-op, the bar’s owner said Thursday.

“I’ve made the choice to move forward with transferring ownership of the bar to the Stud Collective based on the diverse, multitalented, qualified group that they represent,” bar owner Michael McElhaney said Thursday in a statement. “If these awesome folks can’t make it work, no one can.”

McElhaney, who has owned the bar for 25 years, announced last month that he planned to sell the bar after learning of a 300 percent rent hike.

The newly formed 15-member Stud Collective is made up of drag queens, performers, DJs, bartenders and LGBT business leaders, all of whom have business skills in areas such as bar and restaurant management, public relations, accounting, historic preservation, arts funding and land development.

“We have the funding, resources and talent to make The Stud a profitable, successful business,” said co-op spokesperson and drag queen VivvyAnne Forevermore. “We hope the new building owner will give us the chance to sign a market value lease and allow us to keep this historic bar a space where everyone is welcome.”

The group says it has secured funding for the purchase and plans to work with Supervisor Jane Kim and the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development to create a business model that will maximize profits and allow the bar and performance space to keep operating.

Kim said she was honored to help lead the efforts to keep the Stud open.

“We can’t underestimate the importance of the Stud to the LGBT community,” Kim said. “Not only has The Stud been the site of important artistic and political events, it currently serves as one of the anchor businesses for the future Tenderloin/SOMA LGBT Heritage District.”Jane KimLGBTSoMaStud nightclub

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