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Iconic San Francisco LGBTQ bar, The Stud, reopens in a new location

The Stud first opened its doors in 1966, and now, after a four-year closure, it has a new home just blocks away from its previous location.
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/ Source: NBC Bay Area

After a four-year closure, an iconic San Francisco bar has a new home. One of the city’s oldest gay bars, The Stud, closed early on during the pandemic due to a lack of revenue. Saturday evening, the community celebrated its grand reopening — with a look back at its history and a look ahead with hopes for the future.

The Stud’s new location is at 1123 Folsom Street in the South of Market neighborhood, just a few blocks away from its previous location on 9th Street.

“We were sad to see it closed but we were determined to get it open, and here we are four years later,” said Nate Allbee, a co-owner of the Stud. Allbee explained that the Stud is owned by a collective group of people who banded together to keep the bar open back in 2016. Albee said it’s the first collectively owned nightclub in the United States.

The Stud opened its doors in 1966 and operated continuously until the pandemic forced it to shutter in 2020. Allbee said the collective stored all the historic elements of the old bar and rallied the community to help find a new space for it to reopen.

At the Stud’s reopening celebration, a line of people snaked around the block waiting for a chance to see the new space.

Sammy Braxton-Haney of Walnut Creek and their wife arrived an hour early to be at the front of the line.

“When the Stud closed down, it was like a piece of me went away, and so having the Stud re-open is like a piece of me comes back, and it just feels so great to be here,” Braxton-Haney said.

Braxton-Haney explained that they’ve been going to the Stud since the mid-1990s.

“Many important nights happened there, as my first time coming out being transgender, I like to say I took my first baby steps in a dress at the Stud,” Braxton-Haney said.

Some attendees even got "Stud" tattoos that day for the occasion, including San Francisco resident Chris Cashion.

Cashion’s partner, who passed away years ago, worked as a bartender at the Stud.

“I’ve been a fan of this place for years,” Cashion said.

The city’s Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence blessed the new space and sprinkled pink glitter to welcome in the crowds.

The new location was previously a sports bar and provides double the space of the old location, owners said.

Stud Collective members said that while the bar is open, there is still more work to be done to get it complete. They are still fundraising around $75,000 to build a stage for the bar. They plan to take down the industrial kitchen inside the bar and install a stage there as well as a green room for performers.

Once the stage is complete, Allbee said, the Stud will be able to launch its new school for drag performers under the leadership of Honey Mahogany as Head Mistress of Drag. Allbee said the hope is to start this school by the end of this year.

“We’ve always been a place that’s welcome to everybody if you’re straight, if you’re gay, whatever you look like we want you here,” Allbee said, “Have a good time, come see some drag, come have some drinks, you are welcome here.”

Guests on Saturday told NBC Bay Area this bar reminds them of the San Franciscans who fought for decades to make welcoming spaces for the LGBTQ community. A wall on the back patio shares photos honoring the people who’ve played a role in the bar and its history over the years.

“It’s more than just a place to party — I mean yes, it’s that too — but also, it’s home,” Braxton-Haney noted.