Legal Defense Fund
We need your help.
The California Department of
Alcoholic Beverage Control spent most of 2009 trying to put DNA
Lounge permanently out of business. They accused us of "running
a disorderly house injurious to the public welfare and morals", and
wanted to permanently revoke our liquor license. Had they succeeded,
we would have had to close.
We fought this, obviously. The appeals process was lengthy and
expensive, but we eventually managed to negotiate a settlement.
Instead of revoking our liquor license, they suspended it for 25
days. We were closed from Monday, January 4th through Thursday,
January 28th, and that will hopefully be the end of it.
There are also a few years of "probation" on top of the suspension
(basically meaning that if they hit us with a second accusation of
being a "disorderly house", that would be really bad), but the 25 day
suspension should be the end of this battle.
(Fear of inadvertently violating that probation is why we're never
open during the Folsom or Dore Alley street fairs any more, and why we
do a lot fewer gay events than we used to, in case you were
You can read more details about the beginning of this fight on my
February 13, 2009 blog entry
about it. During the closure, we took the "opportunity" to do some
repairs and remodeling, which you can read about on the
January 2010 blog.
We had to fight the State of California over our alcohol license
for more than two years, and the process was extremely
expensive. As you can imagine, it's hard enough running a small
business during a recession without also having to fight your own
state government who are trying to destroy you.
Click the button to contribute to our legal defense fund, via PayPal:
Your contribution, however small, will be greatly appreciated!
We are, in theory, a for-profit organization (not that there has
ever been any profit, mind you...) But since we are not legally a
non-profit or a charity, your contributions will not be
Even if you can't afford to contribute, please join the
"Save DNA Lounge"
Facebook group to show your support.
We also have
"Save DNA Lounge" t-shirts for
sale! They are green-on-black with glow-in-the-dark ink.
(They're sold out! Thank you!)
Why do we need extra help? Here's what we've spent so far trying
to make DNA Lounge a place for everyone:
- In order to better support live music, we wanted to convert our
21+ liquor license to one that allows all ages shows. In California,
the only way to get that license is to be a "bona fide eating place".
I didn't particularly want to be a restauranteur (I just want to run
an all-ages concert venue) but that is a hard requirement, so before
even applying for the license conversion, we had to build a
kitchen. That cost about $50,000.
- Then ABC denied our license, and we had to go to an
appeal hearing. That cost another $42,000 in lawyers fees, expert
testimony and advisors.
- Right on the heels of
our victory at that hearing came ABC's retribution, the "lewdness"
charges. Preparing for that hearing cost at least another
$20,000 in lawyers fees and other consultants.
- Having lost that hearing, the consequent year of
protracted negotiations, and the lawyers and consultants needed to
facilitate that, cost something like $30,000.
- Finally, we were closed for almost the entire month of
January. That meant no income at all, but of course we still had to
pay rent, insurance, etc. All of the promoters who host events here
had to either skip their events, or find a new venue to host them that
month. We ran the scary risk that some of those promoters wouldn't
come back (fortunately all of them did, because they love us!) It's
hard to put a price tag on how much a month of closure cost us, but
it's enormous. Maybe $25,000 in missed revenue and wasted effort?
Probably more? It's hard to quantify.
I believe that converting DNA Lounge to an all ages venue has cost
us over $165,000 so far. I only counted the big expenses, so
I'm sure I left something out; the actual number is probably higher.
This is why ABC always wins. Despite what you may think, the
nightclub business is rarely a profitable one. The people who are in
this business are in it as a labor of love. The ABC can easily wage a
war of attrition against small businesses like us. Most people give
up rather than fighting the government, because they just can't afford
I chose to fight. I hope you'll help!