One of San Francisco's oldest and most important nightclubs, the DNA Lounge at 375 11th Street, has filed an application with the California State Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) agency to change their liquor license from type 48 (21+) to a type 47 license that allows all ages. This location has been a hotspot of San Francisco entertainment since it opened in 1977 as the leather bar Chaps and as DNA lounge since 1985.
DNA Lounge has throughout it's history been primarily a DJ oriented nightclub catering to the over 21 crowd. In recent years however, a pronounced cultural shift towards live music and all age shows has made it difficult for DNA Lounge to economically survive. Consequently, DNA lounge has filed an application to change their liquor license to a type 47 to allow occasional all age shows, especially during the week when the venue is now typically closed. DNA Lounge, like many other SOMA nightlife venues, is struggling for economic survival being open only 2-3 days a week, compared to the 1990s, when such venues were typically open 4-6 days a week.
We are asking for your support because it is now customary (but not mandatory) for the State ABC and the SFPD to place a condition on type 47 liquor licenses requiring 50% of all revenue through food sales. This condition was not in place when many of San Francisco's historic live music venues were licensed. If that condition were applied to our city's currently operating live music venues (the Warfield, Slims, The Great American Music Hall, Bimbo's, The Fillmore and many more), none of them would be able to meet a requirement of 50% food sales. All have Type 47 liquor licenses.
DNA Lounge has installed a kitchen and will maintain food sales whenever open, but could not be a full-scale restaurant, as the layout is definitely that of a music venue with a large stage. The intent of management is to survive the cultural shift by becoming a live music venue, where food is served but the focus is on the musical performances.
Extensive soundproofing was installed at DNA Lounge during a 1999 remodel that in combination with professional management, has allowed the venue to operate without noise complaints and maintain positive relations with surrounding resident organizations, which we expect to support their application for a type 47 license.
The San Francisco Late Night Coalition is asking your support for approval of DNA Lounge's type 47 license without the 50% food sales requirement. We feel that they will be able to operate live music shows professionally and without nuisance to the surrounding neighborhood. We would appreciate your help in asking the SFPD and ABC to grant an exception to their recent 50% food sales requirement for type 47 licenses given DNA Lounge's excellent operating record and the historical importance of this venue to the city's nightlife culture.
Political Director, San Francisco Late Night Coalition