Nick Bovis, the San Francisco restaurateur who was one of the first co-conspirators named in a federal indictment earlier this year stemming from an FBI probe of corruption in SF City Hall, has now filed for bankruptcy for one of this businesses, longtime hofbrau Lefty O'Doul's.
As the Business Times notes via Bovis's bankruptcy attorney, the given reason for the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing for the sports bar/hofbrau more recently known as Lefty's Baseball Buffet & Cafe is the current city health ordinance "prohibiting self-serve and buffet-style service in restaurants," which has forced Lefty's to remain closed. But the place actually closed before the start of the pandemic sheltering orders, reportedly due to damage from a burst water pipe — which as the Business Times reports is partly the subject of a July lawsuit brought by the landlord of the building. Bovis had allegedly stopped paying rent on the space months before the federal indictment dropped, going back to November 2019 — incidentally about the same time that Bovis shuttered his other nearby business, the Gold Dust Lounge.
Both bars used to reside in separate spaces owned by the same landlords, the Handlery family, around the corner from each other in Union Square. The Gold Dust Lounge was in a space that had been a bar likely since before Prohibition which was converted into an entrance for new retail tenant Express amidst much media coverage back in early 2012. Bovis found a new space for it near Fisherman's Wharf in 2012, and in 2017 yet another battle arose with the Handlerys over the lease on the Lefty O'Doul's space, and questions about who owned all the baseball memorabilia inside.
Lefty's Baseball Buffet & Cafe opened in the former Rainforest Cafe space, along with an attached Giants gear store, in late 2018, but it obviously lacked the worn-in, old-school charm of the original hofbrau with its daily selection of carved meats. And within about year, as we learned from the July suit, the landlord says he was not receiving rent.
The Fisherman's Wharf location of Lefty's, like the original location, was a bit of a hangout for City Hall folk, and it figured into some of the original corruption allegations against Bovis and former Public Works director Mohammed Nuru.
As we learned in February, the City Attorney's Office was investigating whether Nuru had "funneled" alleged bribes and kickbacks from city contractors through Bovis and the restaurant — with contractors reportedly paying significant sums to cover the cost of DPW holiday parties catered by Lefty's.
In May, Bovis entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, agreeing to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
As the Business Times reports, the Chapter 7 filing reports $128,000 in assets and $260,789 in debt to 15 creditors, including an $80,000 bill to a Livermore food-service company.
The earlier lawsuit brought by landlord Ronald Fong of the Fong Real Estate Co. sought $600,000 in damages for the burst water pipe, and $221,393 in back rent. It's unclear if the rent payments are included in the bankruptcy filing.
Photo: Andrew L./Yelp