It wasn't like its fragility was any secret: Wicked Grounds, the SoMa cafe by and for the BDSM community, has been struggling financially since its opening two years ago. In April, owners Rose White and Ryan Galiotto held a fundraiser that brought in $50,000, but that wasn't enough to save the cafe, which closed in early October.
The existence of a kink cafe may have sparked titters in some circles, but over on Exhibitionist, SFoodie's sister arts blog, Chris Hall has written a heartfelt eulogy to the closed cafe that's well worth reading. He explains that it's a huge loss for the kink community, coming on the heels of the closures of places like Stormy Leather and the Eagle.
With each closing, it feels like San Francisco is becoming less and less of a place to be queer or kinky, unless you want to keep it in your apartment. Wicked Grounds was unusual in that it was primarily a social space where everyone just happened to be kinky. People came in as a normal part of their everyday lives, not to get laid or to buy stuff for a special night out. On any given afternoon or evening, you might see Scrabble at one table and bondage at the next. The casual nature of the space broke down the careful segregation between "normal" life and sex.
It's a reminder, in the era of single-estate Rwandan siphon-dripped coffees, that cafes have long played other important roles in the community, whether fomenting revolution or simply providing safe spaces for people of the same stripe to gather.