DNA Lounge is hemorrhaging cash, and is on the verge of closing its doors for good. So writes the owner of the SoMa nightclub, Jamie Zawinski, in a lengthy blog post published this morning detailing the club's financial woes. Shockingly, it seems that the home of San Francisco mainstays such as Bootie and Hubba Hubba Revue has never been truly profitable — and Zawinski can no longer cover the bills.
This news comes as a particular surprise in light of Zawinski's recent expansions — first with DNA Pizza and then later the 24-hour pizza shop and club Codeword, at 5th and Folsom Streets. But Codeword isn't making money, says Zawinski, and attendance at DNA Lounge has plummeted, leading to this morning's plea for help.
"[Between] 2014 and 2015, DNA Lounge's attendance dropped off by about 9%," writes Zawinski. "By the end of 2016, it had dropped by another 15%. Couple this with the fact that Codeword has no business to speak of, and we're screwed. To break even, we need to increase our overall attendance by about 800 people a week."
He estimates his losses are around $380,000 a year, and is asking his patrons to help him come up with a way to keep the doors open maybe just by showing up more? "And no matter how much I try to wrap my brain around this, I don't know what the hell to do about it," Zawinski explains. "That's the reason for this post. I need help, or we will be out of business soon. I can afford to continue to prop things up for a short amount of time, but not very long without both completely screwing my future, and also not actually solving the problem."
He tosses out several ideas before dismissing them one by one. Sell Codeword? That would require a buyer, and he has a long lease on the building. A crowdfunding campaign? He's worried that Kickstarter-like "donations" are really just pre-purchases, and that he will likely barely break even. Find outside investors? "[Can] you call it an 'investment' with a straight face when there is literally no chance of getting your money back? Yeah, no."
Zawinski says he made his money in the first dot-com boom, and dropped about $5 million of that on DNA Lounge over the last 17 years. It seems that money has run out, however, and he doesn't quite know what to do about it.
"If you don't support DNA Lounge, in a tangible way, it won't be here any more," he writes. "Hitting 'Like' isn't enough."
Anyone in the market for a small SoMa club called Codeword with a full liquor license (which once upon a time was Cherry, and Annie's Social Club)?