How legendary jazz club The Black Cat is bouncing back from that marathon robbery
Saturday night, as producer Kassa Overall blasts a drum set from the Black Cat stage, Adam Chapman says things have been ridiculous. The Eddy Street club’s director of operations says the story he’s telling is outrageous, but it’s true: The San Francisco Police Department assigned an employee overtime to review a report on the fallout from the multiple burglaries of his club after the same police department failed to protect his place of business throughout the night. Since Chapman did not come to the club immediately after the robbery (he says neither he nor any of the staff received a call from the police), the cops left after 20 minutes. “It was blatant,” sighs Black Cat owner Fritz Quattlebaum.
But the club are bouncing back in typical style and want to carry the conversation forward. Quattlebaum says that after being connected by the Mayor of London Breed, he spoke with San Francisco Police Chief William “Bill” Scott, who expressed his condolences. Quattlebaum says he hopes police will intervene after this incident – and says Scott indicated the department was considering a policy change when they spoke on the phone. But SFPD has yet to release information on the specific changes they plan to make following the incident. In the meantime, Chapman and Quattlebaum are happy to work with their extended communities in hospitality and music as the show progresses.
After six years in operation and hosting hundreds of musicians, the club was never going to let a series of property crimes stop the good times. Bringing in food alumni (like Chapman) and multi-show “residencies” where artists can play what they feel, were central to Black Cat COVID Era Recovery. The plan is going well, they say. Since the robbery, the business has raised over $15,000 in less than a week via GoFundMe. Damani Rhodes and San Francisco Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin performed Wednesday after the incident. The total financial damage is still tallied, although the team may add an improved alarm system, installed last week, to the tally.
The setbacks come after a few months of slow business. But, again, the community response has been anything but depressing. Chapman says a few old restaurant friends brought in a family meal, and Quattlebaum says Power Exchange nightclub and Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio bar are some of the local businesses that have donated to the Black Cat fund. Chapman, who came to Gibson’s Black Cat to preserve the arts in the city, says even the sandwich shop across the street came to show his support. He doesn’t want to have a negative relationship with the police – he would like a new conversation to come out of it.
He is not the first San Franciscan disturbed by The apparent recklessness of the SFPD for victims of crime, especially in Net. Police placed three strips of literal red tape on the black cat’s door before leaving the scene, which the SFPD called “temporary measures to secure the business”, but allowed all to ensue from the moment departure of officers. Although the neighborhood police have the phone numbers of Black Cat personnel, no one on the team has been contacted; Quattlebaum says that when asked, police would only release the area code of the number they were calling, but Quattlebaum said no staff member had a number with that area code. The club employs security for weekend shows, but no one is on guard 24/7.
Sergeant Adam Lobsinger told Eater SF on Monday that the department is “working to create a policy that better responds to these situations and incidents.”