by Rachel Swan
Roughly a year since opening a "gourmet gastropub" and nightlife venue in Jack London Square, the owner of Vitus has decamped, and he's taken the most of the club with him — including a full bar staff, a couple months' worth of bookings, and even the twinkly marquee sign that was featured in a January Express cover story. It now bears the name of Vitus' predecessor, Dukes R&B.
"Yeah, Duke's — I don't know if you remember it," said Vitus' owner Damon Gallagher, fielding questions a day after announcing the closure on Facebook, with a tone not unlike that of a police officer at a crime scene. "It was a great place, real cool, there were about five customers per 1,000 square feet every week." He said the move happened precipitously, after a dispute with Duke's management team on Sunday — though Gallagher is named as "agent and property owner" on Vitus' cabaret permit, he's ostensibly partnered with business owner Mike Ahmadi, whose company, Pacific Brokerage Incorporated, owns the club's liquor license. Within a day of the tiff, Gallagher had packed all his things and moved. Within two days, he was looking at other potential venues. "Vitus might be in operation right away," he assured. In the meantime, he'll be a roving enterprise, holding shows at The Night Light, Cafe Van Kleef, and his other venue Disco Volante. He might attempt to move a much-anticipated night with the Extra Action Marching Band over to Kimball's Carnival, a nearby R&B club and sports bar.
Ahmadi didn't want to comment for this story, and he doesn't have a definite plan for Duke's. Unfortunately, the club won't be able to book any live music without its cabaret permit, says city administrator Arturo Sanchez. But the bar is open.