The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach, one of the Southland's oldest music clubs, was spared from demolition Friday, but the victory offered little consolation to the club's operators, who were evicted late Thursday.
The eviction came shortly after a federal bankruptcy judge denied a last-minute bid for an injunction that would have allowed Richard and Charles Babiracki, who have run the Golden Bear since 1974, to remain in business.
The action brought an abrupt end to all music activity at the club, which over the last 25 years has hosted hundreds of major rock, folk, jazz and comedy performers.
"Justice was not served," said Richard Babiracki. "If we had had 30 more days, we could have paid off our creditors 100% with the benefit concerts various artists had indicated they would perform if they had known the Golden Bear was closing."
Robert Jacobs, attorney in the eviction action for building owners Richard Schwartz and Gwendolyn Tubach, said, "My clients' main concern was that in the event of an earthquake in the next 30 days, they would have absolute liability. The building is dangerous and my clients want to remove it."
Ironically, a few hours before the club's operators were evicted, Huntington Beach officials stepped in to prevent the Golden Bear's destruction so they could discuss the building's historical significance with the property owners.
The Babirackis lost their lease on the building during the course of the club's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings initiated in April. Babiracki said he would pursue other legal avenues in the hope of regaining tenancy in the building, but declined to elaborate. If such efforts fail, Babiracki vowed to reopen the Golden Bear at another Orange County location.