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Mezzanine Fights Back, Files for Chapter 11 Protection

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It’s been an emotional roller coaster for the Mezzanine since news first hit last November that the property owners were looking to kick the female-run music venue to the curb with a threat to increase rent 600 percent by the end of the year. Microbiz Security Company, the landlords powered by the Chritton family, had at one point agreed to extend the lease for a little more than three months, which would have allowed the club to run through New Years Eve 2019. There was a letter of intent and all that gave hope that doors would remain open until January 31, 2020. But they reneged on the deal in May, giving the Mezzanine very little time to figure out what to do with acts lined up for fall and winter.

The club has been in business for 16 years now and has burrowed itself into the hearts of locals. The ladies make music magic at 444 Jessie Street and that’s not something the owners or patrons are willing to give up without a fight.

Courtesy of Zero Zero

A Facebook event popped up last November inviting people to come out for Halloween this year to repaint the face of the Mezz to look like a Chili’s. Event organizers relished in the idea that the landlords wouldn’t be able to find the venue they so badly want to shut down. The thought of people wandering inside in a search for fajitas was pretty damn amusing as well. As of today, nearly 1,000 people have signed up to attend with paint brushes in hand.

The new Chili’s look proposed for the front of the Mezzanine. Photo courtesy of Kaleb White/Facebook

But the Mezz has another trick up their sleeve that just might give them a little more legal backing than Tex-Mex camouflage can provide. In a press release issued Wednesday, representatives for the famed club said:

“Storied music and entertainment venue Mezzanine SF, owned by Nightgallerie, LLC, today announced it had filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. The company intends to use the court-supervised restructuring process to support and protect its fall and holiday season slate of live music and corporate party events; to provide an ongoing, efficient and orderly mechanism for supporting its staff, patrons and vendors and for resolving its debt obligations; and to preserve an opportunity for the 16 year-old venue to survive and thrive into the future as a hub for San Francisco cultural events.”

Basically, since the landlords chose to play the money-over-mercy game, club owners responded in the best way they can, by using the system against them. Filing for bankruptcy protection is actually a pretty clever move and it may poise Mezz owner Deborah Jackman to keep the San Francisco gem bumping well past the January 2020 date she was originally hoping for.

Jackman said:

“[O]ur hope is that through Chapter 11 we can preserve Mezzanine’s operations and position the company to provide great live music events in the heart of the city for years to come.”

The fight over the Mezzanine has become symbolic of the city’s war on a once beautiful, messy and historic culture as each day shutters yet another landmark restaurant, thrift store or dive bar. Bankruptcy may not be the ideal choice in a lot of situations, but in the San Francisco today, all’s fair in love and war.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.