SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Donations poured in Tuesday for workers at the only LGBTQ club in San Marcos after its abrupt closure on New Year’s Day.
A fundraiser launched online for the employees of the Stonewall Warehouse, and so far it’s brought in more than $5,600. According to the GoFundMe site, the staff members learned Sunday the business sold and that they all lost their jobs. The club’s Instagram page showed it hosted a party on New Year’s Eve, the night before the sudden closure was announced.
Jamie Frailicks, who owned the space that housed Stonewall Warehouse, said he met with the staff members Sunday to break the news that he sold the business and would close the club. He said he “knew it would hurt” by sharing this without much notice because of its significance to the local LGBTQ community. However, he said he did so because it was “safer to operate as if there’s a tomorrow.”
“Ultimately, the business has been failing for years,” Frailicks told KXAN over the phone, adding that the club had not turned any profits for some time. He said someone approached him this summer about buying the space, and he eventually accepted the offer. The sale went into effect on Jan. 1, he said.
“After months and months of deliberating and negotiations I ultimately made a decision that was in the best interest of my family and the future of my career and that was to sell Stonewall Warehouse,” Frailicks said in a statement. “I understood the weight of this decision and the effect that it would have on many people. But after years of trying to improve a failing business, I thought best to take this opportunity and move forward. I am deeply saddened by the results of this decision. I know what Stonewall meant for the LGBTQ Community in San Marcos and I have dedicated 8 years of my life to its cause. All I ever wanted was for the Stonewall brand to succeed.”
Frailicks stated he supports the online fundraising efforts for the Stonewall Warehouse workers. However, he said he offered a “hefty severance package” to the club’s general manager, Lena Jacobs, and promised the other 10 or so employees that they would receive two more weeks of pay.
“I am concerned that there is a false narrative being presented about the facts regarding the closure,” he continued in his statement. “I would like to explain that in our industry, the dangers of operating with no tomorrow are too great. I have always maintained an atmosphere of professionalism and responsible service of our most valued guests. No one wanted a proper farewell for Stonewall more than myself but ultimately the dangers and irresponsibility that come with a staff who may have ‘nothing to lose’ when it comes to running a bar properly would not have been in the best interests of the business, the staff, nor our customers. The day you announce better be the day you close. This has been my experience and I understand that many may disagree.”
Jacobs, the former general manager and the fundraiser’s organizer, wrote on the GoFundMe page, “We are devastated at the closure of Stonewall but it has left my entire staff with no income right at the beginning of the month when bills and rent are due. I’m doing this to help them while they find new jobs. Anything will help and will be divided evenly to my staff.”
During a phone interview Tuesday, Jacobs said she is “not keeping a dime” of the donations because it’s all going to the former staff, whom she called “my kids.” She said she hopes it will help them pay their bills at the start of the month and put them more at ease before they can find new jobs.
Stonewall Warehouse is located at 141 E. Hopkins Street on The Square, a popular area in San Marcos known for its bars, restaurants and businesses. Frailicks said the new owners plan to remodel the space to open another bar, which he said he’ll maintain a small stake.
Some of the money contributed to the Stonewall Warehouse fundraiser includes messages from donors sharing personal memories of what the club meant to them.
One person named Jessye wrote, “This place is more than just a bar to so many of us. It was a safe space where everyone was accepted. A safe space to dance, laugh, sing and love! Stonewall will be missed!!” Another named Erica said, “Stonewall Warehouse means so much to me and my friends, I wish the best for everyone I met there. Thank you for always being so kind and amazing ❤️”
Laganja Estranga, the former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, shared a link Monday night to the fundraiser with her 715,000 followers on Instagram. She also wrote in a post on her story, “@stonewallsmtx, you will be missed.”
Jacobs teared up Tuesday evening describing the response to the fundraiser as “extremely overwhelming,” especially after working at the club for the past five years. “I’m going to help my kids,” she said.
Frailicks said it’s unclear when the new bar will open in the space that operated as Stonewall Warehouse for the last eight years.
“I wish this was a situation where everyone wins. Regrettably, no one has,” Frailicks said in the conclusion of his statement. “Thank you to those who have supported Stonewall for the last 8 years. We have had some great times and created lasting memories. I wish good luck to all and appreciate the support for the better part of a decade. Thank you to those who cared. I have always just wanted to do right by you all.”