Stud bar’s future uncertain

Stud owner Michael McElhaney acknowledges the crowd at a meeting he called Sunday night to discuss the bar's future. Photo: Khaled Sayed
Stud owner Michael McElhaney acknowledges the crowd at a meeting he called Sunday night to discuss the bar’s future. Photo: Khaled Sayed

The building housing one of San Francisco’s oldest gay bars has been sold

and the owner said he’s retiring and moving to Hawaii, leaving the club’s

future uncertain.

Stud bar owner Michael McElhaney announced the news at a July 3

emergency meeting. The bar was filled with emotions as the owner spoke

before a crowd of around 50 friends and patrons.

The crowd, which reflected the culture of the quirky bar, listened silently

as McElhaney delivered the bad news. The Stud bar building was sold for

$2 million. McElhaney has two months to sell the business or put up with

a 300 percent rent increase.

The bar will continue to pay the same rent for the next two months but

starting September it will be increased to $9,500.


McElhaney made it clear he is not planning to be the owner anymore. He

proposed a few options that he thinks might make sense, including

transferring the business to someone else who can carry on the bar’s

legacy. He said that, after more than 25 years at the Stud, he is moving to

Hawaii to take care of his aging mother and explore other ventures.

The bar, currently located at the corner of 9th and Harrison streets,

opened in 1966. It has long been a home for LGBT people to party and

hold wild and entertaining events like Meow Mix, A Danceable Homo

Destine, and karaoke night. It was long the home of Heklina’s

Trannyshack show.

Tom Temprano, a gay man who is a part owner of Virgil’s Sea Room in

the Mission, was one of the attendees at the meeting. He said that he

remembered his first public DJ gig was at the Stud and he feels a deep

personal connection to the space.

“With the sort of changes we have seen in San Francisco, losing an

institution and community hub like the Stud would be heartbreaking,” he


Temprano said he was inspired to see so many people come together and

be willing to do the work to keep this place open.

“I believe that our community will be able to rally around the space that

means so much, to keep it,” he said. “It will be tough given what the

number looks like, but this community has done this before and I think

we can do it again.”

Nate Albee, another attendee, said that this is something that has been

happening to queer bars and queer spaces all over the city.

“I’m sad. This is a place that has been a home for me and for my

community that we might lose,” Albee said, “but I also know that this is a

strong and resilient community and when we come together and fight we often win.”

Artist and nightlife fixture Mica Sigourney, who as Vivyanne Forevermore hosts the Stud’s “Something” drag show, sent an email to

the Bay Area Reporter Tuesday saying that he was exploring forming a co-op to buy the club and negotiate a new lease.


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