The Eagle Tavern Closure: Hundreds Protest at Meeting, But Future Looks Dim

S.F. Supervisor Bevan Dufty speaking at the Eagle last night.
Hundreds of supporters gathered at the Eagle Tavern last night to try to stop the closure of the beloved gay bar and live music venue later this month. But despite ambitious plans -- and lots of passion from patrons who said they'd treasured the Eagle community for decades -- the future of the iconic, 30-year-old leather bar at 12th and Harrison streets looks dim at best.

Last night, those with the most knowledge of the Eagle's situation seemed the least optimistic about saving it. The owners, John Gardiner and Joe Banks, had arranged a deal last year to transfer the lease to Eagle manager Ron Hennis and Lila Thirkield, owner of the Lexington Club. But before that deal could go through, the owner of the property decided he wanted to start a bar there himself, and wouldn't allow the current owners to transfer the lease.

"He saw an opportunity to start his own business here," Thirkield said. "He blew up that entire deal."

Now, the Eagle has been given notice to shut down by the owner, reportedly a thirtysomething resident of Santa Rosa who inherited the property from family. Asked last night whether there was any hope in keeping the place open after the end of this month, Gardiner said simply, "I don't think so." He said the owner refused last year to lease the property to Hennis and Thirkield -- but was apparently willing to lease it to the owner of the Skylark, a bar on 16th Street between Valencia and Mission.

That bad news didn't stop the hundreds of leather-clad men and rock 'n' rollers from coming out last night to try to keep the Eagle alive. The passionate meeting saw participants shouting ideas for stopping the closure, including a "sleep-out" near the venue, and showing up at the landlord's house. Afterwards, about 30 supporters marched to 16th and Mission toward the Skylark.

Location Info



S.F. Eagle

398 12th St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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I think Dufty is openly gay and his election campaigns have often won the backing of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund


The folks who own the Eagle also own The Hole In The Wall, and when the latter bar moved to its new location they discovered that it only takes one person filing the right complaints to stand in the way of opening your business. And while John and Joe would probably never even dream of stooping to say this, I will be more than happy to do so: When it comes to Skylark invading the Eagle's space, Jakkee Bryson showed us the way.

You may have won a lease, but your adventure has only just begun.


The more I read about the jerks who are trying to force this change (both the property owners and the owners of the Skylark), the more I support the City stepping in and expediting landmark status for the building, forcing the property owner to live with restrictions on his property.


Blasphemy!!!!! Noooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!


Some thoughts:

Yes, they'll miss the Eagle, where they've hung out for the last 20 or so years, and the Eagle has been showing its age for some time.

I have attended some of those Thursday music nights, along with three other people, two of whom were my friends.

When there is war and joblessness and union-busting and financial suffering all around us, there are more important things to protest than a bar that went downhill more than a decade ago.


Sometimes one needs a respite from the news.

Music, a great beer bust, and a fabulous venue.

Shortly after 9.11. A drag troupe was on stage, outside, doing an Andrews sisters tribute.

It was bad timing for a shell shocked world to sing war song's big-band style.

It went over like a lead balloon.

In comes the Extra action Marching band. Performing their anarchic style of improvisation.

They took me on to a perfect reason why I love San Francisco: that in spite of the trials and tribulations in the world.

Music, the right scene, and a serious passion for not being too serious. Mixed with cacophony.

Losing a place like the Eagle is like replacing your third eye with a botox commercial

tess jr
tess jr

Brill, T123...@ Guy, please, sanctimony should not be this clueless; iz your every action focused on said bigger quagmires? Eagle is our refuge + has been going strong.


what a loss to SF if the Eagle goes away, the end of one of the best eras in SF cultural history ever, please say it isn't so!!!!!


fyi, bevan is now longer a supervisor, so your story should read ex-supe dufty and current supe wiener. good to see scott wiener _finally_ getting into the streets and showing his face at an action. here is my post on him MIA at the emergency meeting at the eagle:

wiener's reputation for being a day late and dollar short on activism holds true, even after saying a few words at the 16th street protest.

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