The tug of war over Lefty O'Doul's in Union Square continued Monday with dueling press conferences held by landlord Jon Handlery and the Handlery family via their public relations man Sam Singer and the bar's proprietor of the last 18 years, Nick Bovis. Bovis is trying to make the case that the business and its contents belong to him, and that after his lease is up on February 3 he'll be relocating Lefty's elsewhere in the neighborhood, with all its memorabilia intact. To that end, as the Chronicle reports, he emptied the bar of much of that memorabilia, which he's stowed away at another location for safekeeping.
Furthermore, says Bovis, he owns the liquor license, bought the business with his family back in 1998, and in 2009 he trademarked the Lefty O'Doul's name which he's used to market products including a Lefty O'Doul's brand Bloody Mary mix available in grocery stores. He made a show in front of TV cameras (and pal Willie Brown) Monday afternoon as he climbed above the bar/hofbrau's front door to remove a plaque of horseshoes that commemorates the retirement of multiple police horses, which you can see in the KTVU video above.
And as KTVU reports, Bovis also has the support of Pat O'Doul, cousin of the late baseball hero and bar owner, who calls the actions of the Handlerys "an outrage," and insists his cousin would have wanted the Bovises to continue the business, which Lefty O'Doul and a partner first opened in a different spot on Powell Street in 1940, moving to the current location at 333 Geary Street in 1958.
Singer employed some baseball terms to explain, again, as he did on Friday, that the Handlerys consider Bovis only one in a succession of managers in the bar's 59-year history at this location. "Mr. Bovis has no hits, no runs and has made a terrible error by wrongly taking the memorabilia,” Singer said, per the Chronicle. “In baseball, to steal a base is acceptable, but we are not playing baseball here."
The matter looks to be headed soon for litigation, as Bay City News reports, with the Handlerys looking to take action against Bovis to get him to relinquish the bar contents that he's already removed.
But, Bovis says, "I will not let Lefty’s be handed over to corporate greed nor will I let it die."
One of Bovis's attorneys, Joe Cotchett, said at the press conference, "We have the best lawyers around, who tragically have to waste time with this matter when everyone knows the Bovis family owns Lefty’s."
Stay tuned as we hear about the next phase of this battle, but for now, Lefty O'Doul's as we know it is set to close February 3. The Handlerys say they plan to refurbish the place and reopen it as Lefty O'Doul's in the same location, with new management.
Update: As of Tuesday morning, Singer sends a release announcing the filing of a lawsuit. "The owners of Lefty O’Doul’s bar and restaurant, the Handlery family, today filed a lawsuit against its current tenant in the Lefty’s space, JGX, Inc., to compel the return of the wrongfully taken Lefty O’Doul memorabilia and property. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction against JGX and its agents to prevent them from removing additional property, as well as a formal adjudication confirming Handlery’s ownership of that property."
Further, Singer says, "The outgoing management company at the bar and restaurant, Nick Bovis, and their agents have taken memorabilia that doesn’t belong to them. They know what they have done is worse than wrong."