OAKLAND, Calif. - A downtown Oakland bar owner claims his landlord is trying to force him out of his lease.
Just below the Paramount Theatre sign and to the left, sits the Port Bar.
It’s been a gathering place for the LGBTQ+ community since 2016.
"We usually come here before we go to a concert at the Fox Theater," patron Fred Vinson said.
But bar owner Sean Sullivan got served with something that is not on the menu.
Sullivan claims the landlord, Phil Leong of Alameda Bayfarm Investment, has an issue with the venue’s live entertainment, which consists of karaoke, trivia, DJs and dancing.
For a gay bar, specifically this one, that includes drag shows, all of which Sullivan has permits from the City of Oakland.
The landlord is threatening to evict the bar owner at the end of 2024, cutting the lease short by three years.
"Eliminating queer programming would be eliminating jobs," Sullivan said.
Dozens of performers and promoters would be impacted.
Gay bar Port Bar in Oakland is being forced out of his lease three years early because of the live entertainment. Owner says he's being discriminated against
Sullivan feels he’s being discriminated against.
"So basically, all of our queer programming is somehow offensive to him."
The landlord told Sullivan the live entertainment is dangerous.
Drag brunch spills out into the streets.
"Yes, our drag queens will go dance in the street. Car windows will roll down and people will wave their money at them."
In an email obtained by KTVU, the lawyer representing the landlord wrote in part that the bar does not have enough space to accommodate live entertainment, which he described as a liability.
"[Leong] characterizes what we do as dangerous or wrong or lawbreaking and this is a thought from another time," Sullivan said.
Sullivan also claimed construction is underway on a karaoke bar next door which is also live entertainment.
It’s in the same building owned by Port Bar’s landlord.
The bar’s front windows were shot out in early October.
"We feel and the police feel that it is a targeted incident," Sullivan said.
The bar owners hope they will still be there when the lease ends in 2027, but they are worried they will be evicted next year.
"Oh, that would suck," patron Darius Taylor said. "This is the first gay bar that I came to when I moved to the bay a few years ago, so it would be pretty significant if it just stopped existing."
KTVU reached out to the landlord’s lawyer for comment but did not hear back in time.
If Port Bar is forced to move out, Sullivan said it would cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up shop somewhere else.