UCSD administration first took aim at the Ché Café, and now it has its sights set on Porter’s Pub.
“It’s like they’re giving themselves chemo but killing off all of the wrong organs,” says a UCSD alum who is monitoring the school’s extermination of on-campus music venues. “Are they killing these venues off to pay for the sins of the Sun God Festival?”
Porter’s Pub has hosted all-ages concerts since 1993. Stephen Lawler has held the lease to oversee the Porter’s Pub food-and-beer concession and its adjoining stage area for the past seven years. He tells the Reader that he has been informed that his lease will not be renewed. Lawler says he is pursuing options, including possible legal action. He declined to comment for the record.
While “safety concerns” was the university’s reason for trying to close the Ché, Porter’s closure is centered on a decision from a committee called the University Centers Advisory Board. A UCAB statement says that the reason UCSD should seek a new tenant is because Porter’s Pub is selling too much food in relation to its beer sales, that inspectors who visited Porter’s didn’t like the food experience, and that Porter’s did not let student groups use the stage as much as is stipulated in the lease.
While Lawler would not speak on record, one source close to Porter’s says the claim that students didn’t get to use the stage as much as is stipulated in the lease was “bullshit” and can be proven so. The Porter’s insider says that only within the past 12 months have police been called in to patrol hip-hop shows. “We never had any incident in seven years other than [police] coming in to cause trouble.”
“Very few people know about UCAB meetings, their agendas, or their times and locations,” says UCSD grad student Josh Kenchel, who was a member of the Associated Students Council last year. “UCAB’s anonymity is the major reason why this decision came as a surprise to everybody.”
Kenchel suggests there may be an underlying move to gentrify the La Jolla campus and points out that last year a Starbucks replaced a locally owned fair-trade coffee shop named Café Espresso Roma. “Here is where you can connect the dots between Porter’s Pub and Che Café...Porter’s Pub is a campus institution that, as wonderful as it is, and though it has many loyal fans and customers, does not fit into UCSD. It is simply not mainstream enough. This is the hidden message when you read phrases such as ‘low sales numbers’ and ‘lack of adherence to University Centers reservation procedures.’ Don’t be surprised if they proceed to lease the pub space to a national chain, which they expect to yield higher sales.”
Attempts to get comments from UCSD assistant vice chancellor Gary Ratcliff or UCAB were not successful.