Oakland rock club and dive bar the Stork Club, a venue that’s been open in different forms for over 100 years, is temporarily closing due to the pandemic. Tom Chittock, manager and son of owner Juanita “Micki” Chittock, tells KQED that his family decided that it no longer made sense to pay $7,000 a month in rent and $3,000 in insurance with no reopening date in sight.
“I was trying and trying and trying and trying, the landlord isn’t talking to me,” says Chittock. “We would like to talk to him to see if we could get some rent forgiveness, and he hasn’t responded to any emails. I even walked over and hand delivered a letter.”
Chittock says that prior to the pandemic, the club had some financial struggles, but was mostly staying afloat with nightly punk shows. “We were hanging in there, we were having a little bit of trouble, but we were making it,” he says.
But now, concerts are off in California until the state reaches phase four of its reopening plan—which would require the wide availability of a vaccine or therapeutics. With that timeline uncertain, the Chittock family decided to cut its losses and move out of its colorful, mural-strewn downtown Oakland space, located at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and 24th Street. Chittock says that Stork Club will one day reopen in another location, perhaps as a nonprofit, and that it’s fundraising for relocation with a GoFundMe campaign.
The Stork Club’s closure is the latest example of the pandemic’s alteration of Oakland’s cultural landscape. Spirithaus Gallery, a venue that centered black artists with Afrofuturist sensibilities, announced last week a move out of its West Oakland warehouse on Adeline Street. An Instagram post from the venue owners suggested plans to reopen in another form as well.