LONG BEACH — Club Ripples isn’t having it’s last call just yet.
A large “For Lease” sign is posted on the roof, but the business isn’t closed.
“We’re not closing. We’re open,” said John Garcia, who has co-owned the landmark, 5,000 square-foot gay dance bar with partner Larry Herbert since 1980. The pair also are celebrating their 42nd anniversary as a couple.
“Look at our website. We have a lot of events,” Garcia said.
$4.2 MILLION PRICE TAG?
Garcia and Herbert announced earlier this year that Club Ripples is for sale for $4.2 million. Long Beach’s first and longest running gay dance bar opened in Belmont Shore at the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Granada Avenue in 1973.
That price included Club Ripples, the 1,500 square-foot adjoining liquor store, the land for both spaces and all permits and licenses associated with both businesses.
Garcia wouldn’t confirm if the price tag is still $4.2 million or answer any other questions about the business.
“If anyone has questions about the business, they should call the number on the ‘For Lease’ sign, Garcia said.
Q Voice News called the number; it’s a generic voice message asking the caller to leave a message.
“It’s only for people who are seriously interested in the business,” Garcia said. “It’s not for lookie lous.”
TIME TO RETIRE
Garcia and Hebert said earlier this year that they are selling the business because they want to retire.
“We’re old,” Hebert said. “I’m 63, and John is 70. I don’t want to be as old as Methuselah. It’s time to pack it in.”
Garcia added: “We don’t want to die here.”
Hebert said that selling the business wasn’t a difficult decision. “We’re too old to deal with babysitting these kids,” he said.
HISTORIC GAY BAR
The history of Club Ripples dates to the 1950s when it was a gay bar called Oceania that closed in 1968.
Later, actor John Agar, who also was Shirley Temple’s first husband, bought Oceania and turned it into a heterosexual bar-restaurant called John Agar’s Celebrity House, which was sold to Mary Azar, who renamed it Mary’s Celebrity House.
Several other people owned the space before it was turned into the gay bar Ripples in early 1973. Eventually the word “Club” was added to the title.
THE HOTTEST CLUB
For more than two decades, Club Ripples was Long Beach’s hottest gay club. It was packed almost every night with lines out the door and around the block.
But as other gay bars opened in the city and competition increased, it didn’t help matters that Garcia and Hebert clung onto their antiquated business policies (for example, no drinks on the dance floor). As a result, gay customers spent their money at other watering holes, and the crowds evaporated.
TABATHA TAKES OVER
By 2011, Club Ripples had lost so much money that Tabatha Coffey of the Bravo TV reality show “Tabatha Takes Over” stopped by and gave the bar a business make-over and Garcia and Hebert an attitude adjustment.
While Hebert and Garcia had tried to blame the competition and their staff for the club’s problems and financial woes, Coffey told them their problems were the result of Hebert’s crazy club rules and poor customer service and Garcia’s penny pinching.
Garcia and Hebert, who have said they were already thinking of selling the business in 2011, said they would like to see another gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender couple make the purchase and continue the bar’s legacy, instead of someone who wants to demolish it and build apartments, condominiums or any other structure.