by JIM MEKO
A couple dozen patrons and neighbors gathered in the patio of the SF Eagle bar last Tuesday night to hear about plans for a Halloween street party outside the doors of the much-loved SoMa gay leather institution. Halloween is Thursday, October 31 this year.
Mike Leon and Alex Montiel reopened the once thriving SoMa bar last March. They’ve pumped new life into the faltering franchise, previously owned by John Gardiner and Joe Banks. Gardiner and Banks put most of their energies into the Hole in the Wall bar, recently relocated to a building they bought on Folsom Street, while the Eagle withered and died.
The SF Eagle gained new life under Leon and Montiel, who have taken a much more entrepreneurial approach to scheduling events. They’ve also poured the last remnants of their personal fortunes into the rundown structure. The bar had a pretty decent crowd during the 7:00 p.m. meeting, a vast improvement from the days when their only draw was the Sunday beer busts. The Halloween event is just their latest effort to breath new life into the SoMa entertainment scene.
They envision closing off 12th Street from Folsom to Harrison Streets, with a sound stage located in the parking lot across from the Eagle (soon to become a new condo development) and a main entrance on Folsom Street, and they estimate the event could draw as many as 5,000 guests between 5:00 and 10:00 p.m. They’re conferring with the SFPD at Southern Station this week.
Mike Leon put a lot of effort into publicizing Tuesday night’s community meeting, blanketing the neighborhood with flyers. The crowd was overwhelmingly supportive of the proposal although concerns were raised about the potential for violence, which seems to accompany Halloween celebrations in the city, and they’re planning on furnishing as much security as required to augment what the SFPD provides. They might be overly optimistic about how the nearby residents will respond to the event, but this is the same neighborhood that gets along pretty well with other large events such as Up Your Alley and the Folsom Street Fair.
Next step is a hearing before ISCOTT (the city’s Interdepartmental Staff Committee on Traffic and Transportation).