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Temple nightclub was riddled with dangerous defects, mice, complaints say

A crowd parties at a nightclub.
According to complaints filed with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, the Temple nightclub has been in apparent disrepair. | Source: Kimberly White/Getty Images

A San Francisco nightclub known for techie parties blamed its abrupt closure on financial issues, but a paper trail of complaints suggests there may be more to the club’s shutdown than the venue is letting on.

Temple, located at 540 Howard St., is slated to shut its doors forever on May 25. In a layoff notice filed with the state last month, management blamed the closure on “financial difficulties due to economic changes within our industry.” A total of 86 employees across various departments, including maintenance, bar staff and security, will be affected by the closure, the notice said.

According to complaints filed with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, the SoMa nightclub has been in apparent disrepair with issues ranging from a mouse infestation to a giant hole in the dance floor and a roof deck that disabled patrons couldn’t access. The club was also sued in February by a customer alleging security guards mugged him in May 2023.

A DJ is mixing music at a club with a crowd in the background, vibrant lights, and a booth with equipment.
DJ Ravitez opens for Afrojack at Temple Nightclub in 2016. The nightclub is set to close on May 25. | Source: Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images

It was unclear from the records whether Temple had done any work to address the issues. The club’s owner, Paul Hemming, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

A complaint filed on Jan. 11, 2023, claimed the roof had collapsed in the nightclub’s kitchen due to rain. An inspector who visited the club noted that the building’s ceiling was “failing” because of a leak and that management would fix the problem after a permit was issued, according to department records.

The records show the nightclub obtained a permit for $5,000 worth of work to replace the damaged sheetrock later that month, but the work was never finished.

On Jan. 9, 2024, another complaint was filed against the business, saying the nightclub had a mouse infestation, a 4-by-4-foot hole in the main floor light booth and a rooftop space that was not accessible to disabled patrons, among several other safety concerns.

The city inspected the nightclub again and filed a violation notice on Jan. 25, ordering the club to obtain the necessary permits for the rooftop deck. The notice said the club had built a roof deck without permits and had several other expired permits on the books. The notice did not mention the other issues raised in the complaint.

A Buddha statue is foregrounded against a lively party with purple lighting.
According to complaints filed with the city, the SoMa nightclub has recently had several safety issues ranging from a mouse infestation to a giant hole in the dance floor and a roof deck that disabled patrons couldn’t access. | Source: Carlos Avila Gonzalez/SF Chronicle/Getty Images

Last month, the nightclub applied for a permit to install an elevator to make the rooftop Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, but the permit was never issued, records show. According to the application, the work was estimated to cost $50,000.

Patrick Hannan, a spokesperson for the Department of Building Inspection, told The Standard that the elevator permit was filed on March 15 but "immediately placed on hold." Hannan could not provide further information about the reason for the hold before publication.

There appear to have also been recent concerns about working conditions at Temple. A complaint was filed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Jan. 29, but no public information about the complaint was available, according to online records. OSHA did not immediately respond to The Standard’s request for comment.

The customer suing the club, Kenneth Oyewole, said on May 13, 2023, security guards approached him and, “without provocation,” punched him in the face and kicked him while he was on the ground until he was unconscious before stealing his phone and wallet, according to the complaint filed in San Francisco County Superior Court. Oyewole claims he suffered from a broken ankle, facial fracture, lacerations, bruises and severe mental distress after the alleged attack. He is demanding damages in excess of $35,000.

The San Francisco Police Department confirmed that officers responded to Temple around 3:05 a.m. that day regarding a report of a physical altercation between patrons and security guards. Officers made contact with two men with non-life-threatening injuries, but they were unable to locate the possible suspects, the department said.

Oyewole said the broken ankle and subsequent surgery have cost him $10,000 in medical bills and forced him to miss six months of work coaching basketball after school for an afterschool program in Dublin.

“I feel it still, the ankle pain,” Oyewole told The Standard when reached by phone Tuesday. “I can’t even play basketball.”