BREAKING: As the Covid-19 pandemic escalates into a prolonged financial crisis for the world, local businesses in the Los Angeles area are reeling under the burden of public health rules designed to stop its spread.
The latest major closure, Flaming Saddles (8811 Santa Monica Boulevard), falls closely on the heels of the July 5, 2020 closure of Gym Bar (8737 Santa Monica Boulevard).
Without inbound cash-flow, neither bar was able to negotiate continued occupancy of their space with their landlords. The owner of 8811 Santa Monica Boulevard is listed as Monte Overstreet, according to PropertyShark.com.
In an August 16, 2020 post on Facebook, Flaming Saddles management and owners announced that after 5 months of closure it was impossible to keep the doors open:
I hope that this email finds everyone in good health and good spirits.
I am writing today to give an update on Flaming Saddles WeHo…
It has been a very long 5 months, very long indeed.
Through out these months Chris and I have chosen to stay positive. We were watching the science carefully as well as city and state regulations. We wanted to make sure it was as safe as possible before we attempted to re open our doors.
With the heaviest of hearts, We are sad to say that Flaming Saddles WeHo will not be reopening at 8811 Santa Monica Blvd.
I would like to thank you all for your hard work and dedication. We had become a force to be reckoned with in WeHo and I could not be prouder of the brand and all of you.
Covid-19 has reeked havoc globally, and with a better national strategy here in the U.S. perhaps things would of been different. With the rules as they stand today there is no way we could of fulfilled our fiscal obligations that were presented to us at this location.
We however stand proud. We did our best and rose up… spun on poles, swung on ropes , poured great drinks and danced our way to the top. No one did it better… We are proud of all of you, the best managers, bartenders, servers, barracks, security, Dj’S ,dancers and drag queens … We thank you.
Flaming Saddles will march on!!!
We are grateful and we wish you all much success in the future…
Jacqui and Chris”
Kevin Spencer, a former Flaming Saddles bartender who organized WeHo Nights, an online fundraiser for West Hollywood nightlife employees, said Saddles was an integral part of his LA experience, “both behind the bar as an employee and as a regular guest as well.”
“There was nothing like it on the boulevard,” he said. “I’m grateful that Jacqui and Chris were able to bring their unique experience to our community and I’m very sad to hear it was the usual story of landlord greed that got in the way of their ability to weather this crisis.”
A patron, Heyse Aquino’s reaction summed up what many other community members said on Facebook: ” Noooo!! 😭😭 This has broken my heart into a million pieces. Flaming Saddles was the place to go! It was the spot to be at, I remember going in the first time and seeing the amazing dancers on the poles or swinging from one end to the other, the vibe was always positive everyone was always happy and energetic, the bartenders were always on point, and the music was the best! I’m sad and I will miss this place, there will never be another like Flaming Saddles.”
Some blamed West Hollywood for not doing enough to assist businesses and require more tolerance from landlords. Doug Stichler wrote, “The City should be ashamed for not stepping up and helping.”
The City has urged landlords to work with businesses but the eviction moratorium it extended can not be applied to commercial leases.
Flaming Saddles, like many bars and other businesses in West Hollywood, received a Small Business Administration forgivable loan on April 30, 2020, for an amount between $175,000 and $350,000 dollars. The money allowed the bar to cover operations and employee payroll expenses.
But without the ability to operate, except for a brief period of time in June, many businesses like Flaming Saddles that have no additional revenue streams are in dire jeopardy.
Bars that serve food have been able to successfully transform their businesses and survive by operating as sidewalk restaurant.
Other notable businesses that received Small Business Administration loans under the Covid-19 emergency program include Grindr and The Abbey, which each accessed more than $1,000,000 to cover their operations expenses and employee salaries through the end of August.
Rocco’s accessed more than $150,000 in SBA covid relief funding.
Flaming Saddles in NYC, located at 793 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen, remains in operation.