Five-year-old West Hollywood bar Flaming Saddles has closed as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The country and western-themed gay bar is just the latest COVID-19 related business casualty around greater Los Angeles, but certainly won’t be the last.
Owners Jacqui Squatriglia and Chris Barnes announced the closure over the weekend on social media, saying that they could not come to an agreement with their landlord to allow them to remain in the space. “As we were drawing close to opening Flaming Saddles” after months of being closed during the lockdowns, the statement reads, “it was revealed to us that we did not have a secure deal” with the landlord, despite believing otherwise. Renegotiation efforts failed, and thus Flaming Saddles is no more, though a New York City location remains.
The full closure statement is below:
Flaming Saddles West Hollywood is Closing! The 2nd Gay Bar in WeHo to Permanantly Close. pic.twitter.com/MqsOBi0yEw— GayWeHo Gay Los Angeles West Hollywood (@Gay_LosAngeles) August 16, 2020
Landlords and lease negotiations have been an ongoing hurdle for many small businesses struggling to reopen (or remain open) during the current COVID-19 crisis. Some larger corporations, like the Cheesecake Factory, have publicly acknowledged that they will not pay their due rent for all or portions of the ongoing pandemic, while smaller independent operators with fewer legal resources and less cash flow have relied on individual negotiations with building owners as a way of staying afloat. Sometimes, restaurant owners say, even with well-intended landlords, staying open is simply just not possible.
Like every other municipality in greater Los Angeles, the city of West Hollywood has struggled to keep many of its legacy bars and restaurants alive during such an uncertain moment. The city recently lost the influential Pride Festival too, meaning a further loss of revenue for restaurants and bars in the years to come. In a traditional year, tax revenues for the Pride festival are north of $2 million, with hundreds of jobs created within the city.