After the tony Italian eatery Farina stopped paying rent and utility bills over the summer, the restaurant at 3560 18th Street quietly went dark. But by early next year, the space could have a new occupant, with rent paid courtesy of libertarian venture capitalist and Trump supporter Peter Thiel through his firm Founders Fund. According to the Guardian, the proposal is for Yass, a members-only LGBTQ social club with dues of about $150 a month.
Farina cleared out once the California labor board found the restaurant owed $335,000 in back wages and taxes to employees and city departments. And, earlier this week, news broke that Farina’s nearby sister restaurant, Farina Pizza, was recently evicted, having illegally occupied its space at 18th and Valencia without paying rent since 2015.
Renderings of the envisioned Yass headquarters clearly depict the building at 3560 18th Street space (at the corner of Dearborn). The property’s landlord, however, tells Eater SF that no lease has been signed. While an organization that appears to be Yass has expressed interest in renting the space, lease negotiations have been preliminary.
Yass, which advertises itself as “a headquarters and hangout for today's generation of queer people to bring out the best in each other,” comes from 25-year-old founder and CEO Brian Tran. (Eater has contacted Tran for more details and will update accordingly.)
While many lament the loss of LGBTQ spaces in cities like San Francisco, the specter of a private LGBTQ club with funding from Thiel, who is gay but generally reviled in the LGBT community for his support of Donald Trump, has inspired concern from some neighbors.
Speaking to the Guardian, former SF supervisor David Campos, who is gay, expressed his opposition to the idea based on its ties to Thiel. Tran, however, says Thiel isn’t personally involved in Yass. Thiel aside, others like local drag queen Honey Mahogany told the Guardian they object to Yass on the grounds of its costly membership.
Stay tuned to see if Yass can be made to happen, or if something else ends up in the former Farina space.