As we wrote last November, Mezzanine, the SoMa nightclub that’s been around for 17 years, was unable to renew its lease and was informed it would have to close this October. Hot on the heels of the since-destroyed Hemlock Lounge and the closed-then-reopened Elbo Room (now the Valencia Room) it appeared that yet another longtime venue was headed for the chopping block. This one was especially sad, as not only does Mezzanine host parties that spill out into Stevenson Alley, such as Hard French Hearts Los Homos every Pride Sunday, it also gets “underplay” shows. That is to say, bands that play at larger venues such as Bill Graham may stop by for a second show, giving fans the opportunity to see people in a smaller, more intimate setting.
The stated reason for the non-negotiation? Turning the space into offices. However, the Chritton family — owners of Microbiz Security Company and Mezzanine’s landlords — appeared open to negotiating a short-term extension with Mezzanine owner Deborah Jackman to cover the club’s calendar of events through New Year’s Eve and the end of January 2020. Consequently, the management continued booking events as they normally would.
That deal, however, appears to be off.
In a statement, Mezzanine alleges that the Chrittons sent a letter of intent on Jan. 11 that the club would get the requested extension plus the possibility of a long-term lease at the end of it. But in another letter, dated May 1, the three-month extension was withdrawn. They write:
Cancelling these events not only hurts Mezzanine financially, it is deeply heartbreaking for the staff, promoters, artists, corporate clients, and fans that are counting on these events and have supported the venue’s livelihood for years. “Numerous studies have shown that San Francisco’s economic strength is inherent in its art and music scene. This short-sighted eviction and related course changes create real hardship for the exact people that attract people to our city: artists, and music professionals,” said HUSHconcerts CEO Robbie Kowal. “Mezzanine has always been good to its word, its neighbors, its customers, and our community, something we would hope might make its landlords at least fulfill their meager commitment of a bit more time,” adds Kowal.
In addition, Mezzanine has been working closely with Allen Scott of Another Planet Entertainment, to form a partnership to keep the venue open for the long term.
The Chritton’s company, Microbiz Security, put out a press release stating, “the lease was signed and Microbiz is moving forward with expanding their business” by taking over the space currently occupied by Mezzanine. This statement is a stark departure from their original reasoning for not renewing the venue’s lease; a 600% rent increase for the space.
The venue now hopes that community support may bring a change of heart to The Chrittons. “As we at Mezzanine were receiving encouraging support from our fans, the city, and our industry; the building owners, were getting push back about the fact that we were not given an opportunity to come to the table OR, at the very least to get a 3 month lease extension to let us finish out 2019,” Jackman recalled about the initial closure announcement. “At this point I feel the only hope we have is a public outcry, even louder than the first. That SF will not take this laying down. Please once again, make it known that you need Mezzanine and Mezzanine needs YOU to help us survive, at least until the end of 2019,” stated Jackman.
We shall see.