Almanac

News - August 29, 2012

Former Facebook exec poised to re-open British Bankers Club

• New alcohol license pending for Menlo Park landmark.

by Sandy Brundage

Eight months after the party stopped at the landmark British Bankers Club in Menlo Park, signs of revival appeared, thanks to a former social media executive.

According to the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which yanked the pub's liquor license in January, a new company led by Owen Van Natta has asked to for a new permit. Agency representatives said the license is pending.

Mr. Van Natta worked in key positions at a roster of social media companies — including Facebook and MySpace — before resigning as chief business officer of Zynga in November 2011. He and wife Jennifer applied for the alcohol license as the owners of Evergreen Park Hospitality Group, based in Palo Alto. The company also filed for federal registration of the BBC trademark in March.

The historic brick building at 1090 El Camino Real used to house Menlo Park's administrative and police departments, but in more recent years became known for a crowd whose rowdiness resulted in numerous police visits.

The BBC made headlines in 2010 when a busboy and a cook were arrested for sexually assaulting two women at the club. Police said the men followed the women when they went to an upstairs room in the club to sleep after becoming intoxicated. Both pleaded guilty to related charges.

Former owners Lance White and Richard Eldridge initially said the BBC had closed for remodeling, but eventually posted an announcement on its website saying that it would not reopen.

The signs of revival are sparse, however: Phone lines remain disconnected at the club, and calls to the Evergreen Group went unanswered even by voicemail. Menlo Park city staff said no one has yet applied for the new business license required to reopen the BBC.

Mr. Van Natta was not available for comment on plans for the club.

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