Mezzanine Files for Bankruptcy Protection After Months Long Lease Battle

The SoMa music venue has a few more months before potential eviction.

In an attempt to prevent the 16-year-old SoMa music venue from closing its doors this month, Mezzanine, owned by Nightgallerie, LLC, has filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in hopes of keeping its scheduled fall and holiday season from meeting an abrupt end.

“Mezzanine represents a lot of different things to this city, but one of the biggest things is that it’s an independently owned female owned venue that provides music and nightlife culture,” says Chris Sanders, the marketing director for Mezzanine. “There’s a lot of different artists and record labels and promoters that have gotten their start at Mezzanine.”

Filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection means that Mezzanine will be able to open its doors past its Oct. 10 lease expiration date, and through the fall and holiday season. Its upcoming lineup of musicians and artists will perform as scheduled, and Mezzanine will also be able to pay off their debts and keep its employees — about 35 to 40 of them — on payroll for a little while longer. Artists slated to perform include Wale, Claude Vonstroke, among others.

What happens after these few months is still up in the air according to Sanders, with Mezzanine’s future being nebulous and dependent on its current landlords — the Chritton brothers Dave, Todd and Scott — and a potential partnership with Bay Area concert promoter Another Planet Entertainment. Dave Chritton had no comment at this time.

“It really boils down to what our landlords end up wanting to do with this space,” Sanders says. “And if they’re willing to work with some of these people like Another Planet that are willing to take over and provide financial support.”

When Mezzanine first announced in November 2018 that its 20-year-lease wouldn’t be extended past its expiration in October 2019, public outcry and support led to the Chritton brothers allegedly sending a letter of intent in January 2019 to keep Mezzanine open through January 2020. 

However, in the months following, negotiations were unsuccessful. In May 2019, Mezzanine-owner Deborah Jackman says that she was informed that the lease would not be extended.

Because of a resolution led by Supervisor Matt Haney that passed earlier this summer, the Mezzanine’s current space must remain an entertainment venue, or stay empty — barring any special permits that allow the current landlords to do otherwise. The resolution comes after a series of nightlife-related closures in the city, including the Elbo Room and the Hemlock Lounge.

Sanders also says that Mezzanine started as a gay club in 2003, and has been an important space for the LGBTQ community. He cites the Folsom Street Fair’s official closing party as a significant event that happens at Mezzanine.

“The more that we lose,” Sanders says about entertainment spaces, “The worse this city is going to be a place to live in.”

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