Despite the Elbo Room’s impending displacement from its 647 Valencia St. location, its owners plan to stay rooted in the Mission and on Monday the city granted it legacy business status – a possible financial lifeline.
“We got officially approved yesterday,” said Matt Shapiro, one of the bar’s owners, adding that he and co-owner Erik Cantu are currently working with a local real estate broker John Downing from Downing & Company Real Estate to help them find a new home in the Mission. “There are some promising spots out there.”
The city’s legacy business program officers financial incentives to protect businesses that have a significant standing and cultural impact in the communities they serve.
“[The Elbo Room] has been at 647 Valencia St. for 28 years, and to qualify to be a legacy business you have to be 30 years or older or threatened with displacement,” said Shapiro. “We fall into that second category.”
The Mission bar and music venue has been under the leadership of Shapiro and Cantu since 2010. Before becoming the Elbo Room, the bar’s space housed the landmark lesbian bar Amelia’s in the 1970s and 1980s.
Its lease will expire on January 1, 2018, and the owners of the building are developing housing on the spot..
Businesses approved for the legacy business registry are eligible for a city grant of $500 per full-time employee (with a cap of 100 employees) each year for up to $50,000 annually.
In turn, landlords who provide a minimum of 10-year lease to legacy businesses also qualify for a grant of up to $22,500 annually, or $4.50 per square foot of leased space with a cap of 5,000 square feet.
The recent designation means additional funds for the business and and possibly an incentive for prospective Mission landlords to offer space to the longtime bar owners.
“Legacy status doesn’t keep you where you want to be, but it gives incentive to future landlords that believe in San Francisco and believe in maintaining those legacy businesses,” said Shapiro. “We are not looking for handouts, but it helps.”
Shapiro said that he believes that the bar will find a Mission landlord willing to take them in. In the meantime, he and Cantu are shopping for a location that is similar in size as the Elbo Room’s current location, where “we can have two rooms and still do live music and dj’s.”
Faced with the Mission’s high commercial rents, Shapiro said that relocation will not be easy, but that “there are possibilities.”