Marlena’s Bar to Change Hands
The new year is set to bring big changes to Marlena’s, as the famous Hayes Valley gay bar is being sold.
Proprietors Garry McLain, better known as Absolute Empress XXV of San Francisco, Marlena the Magnificent, and his business partner, Janice Buxton, entered into escrow with the buyers Friday, January 4. If the sale goes as planned, the new owners would close the bar sometime in March for several months to remodel it and bring it up to current state and city codes.
Marlena has hinted for several years that he was thinking of turning over control of his eponymously named establishment to new owners. In an interview with the Bay Area Reporter this week, McLain said the time was right now that he is 73 and Buxton is 70.
"At our age, it was something to think about," said McLain.
He said he feels "fine" about the decision to sell, especially since, "I won’t have to work seven days a week."
For now, the new owners’ identities are not being revealed. Nor would McLain discuss the purchase price for the bar, saying only that, "A lot of people wanted the bar."
He described the buyers as "young" and "eager," though he did not know if they are gay or straight. At least one already owns another bar in the city, he said.
"They want to keep this a neighborhood bar that is welcoming to both gay and straight," said McLain, adding that the Saturday night "Follies" drag shows are also expected to be maintained.
As for the name Marlena’s, McLain said he told the buyers "they could have the name if they want it" but it is unclear if they will opt to keep it or rename the bar.
He has also offered to sell them his collection of Santa Claus figures, which numbers more than 1,400 and decorates the bar every Christmas season.