The small 15-person crowd moaned in disappointment at an open mic Sunday night when realtor Carol Luckenbach announced that owner Pascal Bokar put Savanna, the jazz bar and club located at 2937 Mission Street, up for sale for $1.74 million on Friday.
According to Luckenbach, Bokar didn’t feel like he was making enough money with the club and so he decided to sell.
In addition to working as a realtor, Luckenbach has been a regular performer at Savanna, which opened in 2005, for years.
“There aren’t that many [jazz clubs in San Francisco], so when any close, it’s sad,” said Benn Bacot, a jazz singer who was hosting Sunday’s open mic. He is known in the area as The Base of the Bay.
“Now we have six if we have that many. Most of them don’t cater to local talent. If it wasn’t for people like Pascal… local artists wouldn’t have a place to play. My audience isn’t going to pay $75 to hear me play,” Bacot said.
Bacot has been performing at Savanna on every third Friday of the month for the last five years.
Luckenbach said Savanna is one of her favorite places to perform. She’s very sad about the business closing. She believes that it won’t be difficult to sell the property because of how attractive the Mission now is to buyers.
On Sunday, she told the crowd that she hopes whoever buys the venue will keep it as a jazz bar–“a place where we can all still sing.” Other performers and patrons in the audience echoed these hopes, but almost half-heartedly, understanding that this is probably not reality.
“Come up for the last stolen moments of live music at what is now known as Savanna Jazz,” Bacot told the crowd in prompting them to come to the stage and sing.
As soon as the listing went up online on Friday, Luckenbach received 18 phone calls from people expressing interest, and one commercial broker already made an offer before even touring the property over the weekend.
“I haven’t even had time to get the marketing papers together because there has already been so much action,” she said Friday afternoon.
On Sunday night, after a weekend full of showings, Luckenbach said that a few people had expressed interest in making the venue a place for Rock-n-Roll music or a regular restaurant.
Along with the bar and kitchen, the building has four studio apartments ranging from 560 to 575 square feet attached to it. Currently, two of the apartments are vacant, and the other two are occupied and under rent control. One goes for $1,015 per month and the other $1,025. The new owner will be able to put up the two vacant apartments at market value.
Luckenbach will continue to show the property through the week. She believes that it will be sold for a considerable amount over the asking price.
“In every major capital like Paris and New York, there is plenty of live music. What’s the problem with San Francisco?” asked David Austin, a jazz pianist and head of Diamond Audio Productions. He was playing in the band on Sunday night. “There’s no live music [here]. There’s something wrong.”
Bokar could not be reached for comment.