YIMBY Power: How Friends of the Lucky Horseshoe Bar Rallied to Sway the City’s Entertainment Commission

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So, remember how Eric Embry, co-owner of the Lucky Horseshoe on Cortland, asked folks from Bernal Heights to attend a hearing at City Hall on Tuesday night, so that the Lucky Horseshoe might secure the coveted Entertainment Permit needed to host live music at the bar?

Well, a whole lot of people actually showed up at City Hall to express their support. And in the end, the Lucky Horseshow got their permit — which means live music will soon follow.

But the story doesn’t end there. Overall, the episode turned out to be a rather encouraging experience for many of those who decided to get involved. It showed that hard work can pay off, meaningful community can be created, and antagonism from a NIMBY minority doesn’t always carry the day — or spoil the fun.

Neighbor Clane attended the hearing on Tuesday night, and she filed this exclusive report:

Around 6 p.m. Tuesday night a few of us sat in Room 400 at City Hall to support Lucky Horseshoe’s bid for a live entertainment license. Through a long, tangled presentation by a group that had been successfully blocking entertainment — for twenty years — in SOMA, I worked on some crochet to stay occupied. I didn’t look up until one of the Commissioners announced Lucky Horseshoe. That’s when I noticed something great: The room was totally full.

A Commissioner began Lucky Horseshoe’s case by stating they’d received 845 letters of support of it, and only twelve against. A dozing commissioner straightened as the room exploded with applause.

Lisa Marie and Eric, Lucky Horseshoe’s owners and proprietors, both straight out of Super Cute Geek and Smartie Hotness Magazine, explained their case at the podium. The Commissioners asked a few questions and then invited public comment. A line went around the room as people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and colors stood up to speak.

The commission unanimously voted to approve the license, and the crowd went nicely and politely wild.

Afterward, back at Lucky Horseshoe, Lisa poured champagne for everyone who’d come to City Hall, and the outdated jukebox started up right away with the perfect outdated music I go to Lucky Horseshoe just to hear. Seriously, I go there for three reasons: good drinks from convivial bartenders, interesting conversation with random strangers, and the crappy jukebox.

Whenever I go into Lucky Horseshoe I end up talking to someone totally new and unexpected, because it’s practically a scientific fact: You can bond with almost anyone over “Benny and the Jets.” Those gathered at City Hall were no exception, from the elegant, elderly pool shark, to the mussed hipster, to my neighbor. There were OGs and hoodies, moms and hipsters, musicians of all kinds, and bingo-playing church ladies. There was a genteel pensioner and a lawyer in a trucker’s cap. It was awesome, grown-folk style.

A few things were really clear. The support was genuine and heartfelt, and Lisa Marie and Eric had worked hard for it. Since opening they’d differentiated themselves from Skip’s Tavern, but they’d welcomed old regulars and anyone who respected the business. They held community meetings and supported local causes and events, like the Library Mural Project and the Solstice Stroll.

They also thought a lot about why people might be concerned about live music and what issues it might entail. I don’t think you can fake this kind of thing — either the outreach Lisa Marie and Eric put into it, nor the unanimous approval and overwhelming support they received in return. For once I felt like I was at the really cool party. Gathering to make, experience, and reflect art, music, and culture is the life of the City itself.

Post Script: Eric said he and Lisa Marie were just beside themselves with all the support, and wanted to really, really, really thank everyone.


Last night, Bernalwood received an email from Eric, who writes

Thank you very much!!

Now we just have to do some soundproofing, install the sound system, and pass a couple inspections between now and our first show.  We’ll be on for Valentines day if not earlier, hopefully sometime in January!

PHOTOS: Top, Lisa-Marie and Eric. Below, friends of Lucky Horseshoe attending and testifying at the Entertainment Commission hearing. Fabulous photos courtesy of Adrian Mendoza.

8 thoughts on “YIMBY Power: How Friends of the Lucky Horseshoe Bar Rallied to Sway the City’s Entertainment Commission

  1. Wonderful news and another example of what makes our neighborhood so special. Here’s to all of us helping our local business owners thrive in 2012 and beyond!

  2. The article should have stated that there was also alot of opposition to these permits. Like from us, the folks who live in houses adjacent to the bar. I basically gave up the fight in the face of what was obviously a steamroller of support from folks who are not going to be directly affected by the bar but want to patronize it. I predict we will again have noise and other problems from bar patrons (vomiting/peeing in my front yard & alley, yelling under my window @ 2am, drunk driving & crashing cars into our parked cars, etc). I hope all of you who supported the permit will be quiet, polite bar patrons. But I suspect otherwise……

    • When you moved in was the bar already thre? As Skips or any other iteration? didn’t you realize it existed? Did you think you would be able to make it go away?

  3. Yes, the bar was there of course. But over the past 15 years things got progressively worse in terms of the bar’s impact on us living here. And (more importantly) this is now a neighborhood of families with young children. When we bought our house in 1997, there was only ONE kid living on our block. Now there are 13 kids under the age of 8 (on ONE block of Andover). The demographic of the ‘hood has changed, and it is not unreasonable to expect that the businesses will change accordingly. And yes, we did think we would make it go away. The house next door to us was a public health and safety hazard for many years. I spent 10 years working with the city to get the house sold. Instead of guns, drugs, cockroaches rats and sewage we now have a lovely house and family with 2 young kids. The block is immeasurably improved as a result. So yes, I do think we might have been able to make the bar go away. We weren’t (yet) but hopefully LisaMarie will keep things manageable. She says she will & I have to trust her. It does not make any sense to say us folk who bought houses near the bar should just put up with it b/c it’s existence predates us. Geez, if that were true the world would never change. How sad.

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