Campus pub operation talks persist

The ASUC Store Operations Board is currently in negotiations with possible new managers of the Bear’s Lair Pub, whose current management will stay until June 30.
Kevin Foote/File
The ASUC Store Operations Board is currently in negotiations with possible new managers of the Bear’s Lair Pub, whose current management will stay until June 30.

On most early Friday evenings  throughout the school year, the Bear’s Lair Pub was overflowing with customers gathered for the pub’s weekly “Beat the Clock” event.

Despite this, the pub’s current management, Jupiter Beverage LLC, was switched to a month-to-month lease of the space by the ASUC Store Operations Board after the pub provided documentation at the February board meeting indicating that it had lost a large amount of money over the previous year and a half since the economic downturn. At that time, the board decided the current management would remain until June 30 on a month-to-month lease without paying rent — $4,637 per month — for the space.

Now, the board has decided to continue discussions with a partnership of two new vendors to potentially run the pub.

After hearing a presentation from Cal Dining Executive Director Shawn LaPean and local business owner Daryl Ross at its meeting last Wednesday, the board decided to pursue negotiations for a lease with the two vendors in the hopes of opening the pub under their management by mid-August, according to Ryan Landis, interim vice-chair of the board.

Should the two vendors move into the space, Landis said the pub would hopefully draw more people to the area and therefore help improve the climate of Lower Sproul Plaza.

“The main thing that they see, and that we see, is that the Bear’s Lair can be a destination spot,” Landis said. “Ultimately, they want it, and we want it, to be a place where you can enjoy food, you can enjoy a drink … and people come back because of the quality of the atmosphere.”

Hedy Chen, an undergraduate representative on the board, said the setup of the pub itself would be subject to change depending on what would be taken by the current management. If the two other vendors move in, Chen said the pub would also focus more on food than it has in the past.

“Next year, when football games aren’t in Berkeley, we want Bear’s Lair to be a good place for everyone to go — it would be a good restaurant where you can also enjoy a beer,” she said.

According to Landis, the exact length of the new lease has yet to be determined — dependent on many factors, including construction for the Lower Sproul renovation project — though he said it would likely be for at least one year.

As of Thursday, the two vendors had not been officially notified of the board’s wish to continue discussions about operating the pub under their management.

Associate ASUC Auxiliary Director Tom Spivey, a member of the board, said nothing is certain yet.

“The pub lease is up June 30, 2011, and at that time, the pub is up for a new tenant,” Spivey said. “What we’re doing now is negotiating with other parties that are interested.”

In order to prepare for any new management, Landis said the space will likely be closed for some amount of time, though he did not know how long it would be.

“The plan is to have it open and running at the start of the school year, but that may or may not happen,” Landis said. “Mid-August is a target date.”

In May 2009, the board forgave The Daily Californian a portion of its rent for the office it leases. As a result of that agreement, a nonpolitical student member of the board, currently Chen, sits on The Daily Californian’s Board of Operations, which has no control over the paper’s editorial content.

J.D. Morris is an assistant news editor.