SAN FRANCISCO - The battle over Lefty O'Doul's in San Francisco escalated on Monday. Its lease ends on February 3, leaving the restaurant's future in question and now, the name is too.
The San Francisco icon has a ticking clock and a dearth of famous memorabilia that has disappeared from the walls.
"San Francisco is a museum and we are the curators," former Mayor Willie Brown said.
It's another example of escalating rents from rising real estate but with a twist. The landlord, John Handlery, owns most of the block and the hotel. He claims he owns not only the property but also the name of the 60-year-old establishment.
"The current owner is a lessee of the business. Being a lessee does not grant rights to the business," Singer Public Relations spokesperson Adam Alberti said.
It's the kind of claim that gets real estate attorneys licking their chops and that prompted Nick Bovis, the so-called lessee, to fight back. "All I want to do is move Lefty O'Doul's and keep the tradition going. That is all," he said.
He says the memorabilia is his, as well as the name with trademarks. They held a press conference on Monday, a who's who of old-guard San Francisco, including Lefty O'Doul's cousin, Pat O'Doul.
"I think it is an outrage," he said.
So it's quite the show and apparently, only just the beginning. Bovis says he'll move and keep the Lefty's name.
"We will be defending our rights and options," Bovis said.