Arts & Life, Features

Executive Suite Nightclub in Long Beach organizes GoFundMe to combat financial loss amid pandemic

On Feb. 6, Robert VanBeveran and Leonard Sinatra, owners of the Executive Suite Nightclub in Long Beach, will celebrate eight years of owning the LGBTQ club and bar.

The accomplishment comes amid a time when Executive Suite is in need of assistance from the community, $24,000 worth of assistance, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Jan. 21, Sinatra organized a GoFundMe for Executive Suite, explaining on the website that even closed, the nightclub costs $19,000 a month, which includes rent, insurance and utilities costs. Something like refrigeration, even while closed, puts the electricity bill at $900, according to VanBeveran.

That, on top of liquor licenses and city business licenses, means that running Executive Suite comes with a hefty price tag. Without all of the guests coming through Executive Suite’s doors, the financial loss is evident.

Executive Suite opened in 1977 and is the longest running gay bar in Long Beach since the closure of the historic Club Ripples off of Ocean Boulevard in 2019.

The club has meaning to its community, if the comments from the donors off the GoFundMe are anything to go by.

“Executive Suite is an institution of LGBTQ+ culture. I am so saddened to know that the pandemic is rendering such an incredible place in a time of need. We need to save this place! Please donate!” donor Alan Garcia said.

Another donor named Baxter Campbell commented on the GoFundMe as well.

“An amazing place that allows for communities to grow, want more people to enjoy in the future!”

As of Feb. 5, the GoFundMe is at $10,665, with over 205 donations and 800 shares.

“It’s a mainstay for the gay and lesbian, transgender community,” VanBeveran said. “I mean, we host a lot of events for the community, in that respect. But then on the other hand, we welcome everyone. Our drag shows, I would have to say, there’s a lot of straight people that come just because of the performers we’re having.”

Executive Suite reopened on Feb. 3 following the news that stay-at-home orders have lifted across California.

Still, allowing Executive Suite to reopen outside service wasn’t “substantial” to VanBeveran, who said that they are operating beneath a tent and subjected to the weather.

“We’re a club that holds up to 400 people, and we’re going to be working with a maximum of 50 people being outside,” VanBeveran said. “So even though we do get to open, it’s not like we’re going to be profitable.”

Executive Suite has already had the experience of operating a club outside during previous lifts of stay-at-home orders.

VanBeveran said the business made enough to cover employee’s salaries, but VanBeveran and Sinatra received little income, leaving them without funds to cover personal expenses.

When the coronavirus pandemic first caused closures of nonessential businesses in March 2020, Vanbeveran said it was important to contain the virus and protect everyone. They were able to afford the losses, making it through the first few months, but almost a year later, it has been difficult for businesses everywhere to remain afloat.

To VanBeveran, reopening means Executive Suite can host live entertainment, from DJs to drag performers, people who VanBeveran said relies on Executive Suite being open as well.

But, Executive Suite can’t do that yet, meaning the business can only operate as a limited capacity, outdoor space where guests can dine or order a drink.

While VanBeveran said Executive Suite won’t close, the business will be in debt for a few years.

“I don’t see us closing permanently, but we’re gonna be in debt for a few years to keep the place going,” VanBeveran said. “Because I don’t personally want it to close.”

VanBeveran had gone to Executive Suite for years prior to owning it and said it was a great place that had a lot of potential. VanBeveran and Sinatra became the new owners, taking great care in making sure the place was safe for all customers and have hosted charity events as well.

That care continues even now, as VanBeveran understands that even with the business reopening, many of their customers will not feel comfortable yet to come, based on Executive Suite’s previous experience being open during the coronavirus pandemic.

For now, it’s a waiting game for VanBeveran and Sinatra.

But in three to four months, VanBeveran said that hopefully, Executive Suite can reopen inside.

“I can see it being back to the way it was, after we get more and more people vaccinated,” VanBeveran said. “It’s like we’re at the tail end of it, so I don’t want to give up.”

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