December 2, 2020 at 3:25 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Rights to DC Eagle name purchased by Duplex Diner co-owner
Mark Hunker, gay news, Washington Blade
Mark Hunker purchased the rights to the DC Eagle name. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay businessman Mark Hunker, the co-owner of D.C.’s Duplex Diner and of two restaurants in Rehoboth Beach, Del., has purchased the legal rights to the name, trademark, logo, and other intellectual property belonging to the DC Eagle, the popular gay bar that closed its doors in May.

Hunker’s identity as the purchaser of the DC Eagle’s name and other intellectual property became part of the public record this week of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia five months after the DC Eagle filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on June 26.

In response to a request for comment by the Blade, Hunker acknowledged that he was the purchaser of the DC Eagle’s name and other intellectual property rights.

“The DC Eagle is an institution to our LGBTQ community, and it was too important to let slip away,” Hunker told the Blade in an email message. “I wanted to preserve the name for what it means to all of us, and to the legacy of the D.C. leather community and beyond,” he said.

“I am assessing options for how to ensure the DC Eagle lives on, but right now is not the time to open a bar or gather people,” Hunker said. “What I can tell everyone is that the DC Eagle brand remains locally and proudly owned.”

The sale of the DC Eagle’s intellectual property to Hunker was finalized on Nov. 12 as part of an auction authorized by the bankruptcy court. Rasmus Auctions, the company retained by the bankruptcy court to conduct the online auction, disclosed on its website that the DC Eagle property was sold to the highest bidder at $32,800. But the company did not disclose the identity of the buyer at that time, saying it has a policy of not disclosing the identity of bidders or purchasers through its auctions.

A spokesperson for U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Elizabeth I. Gunn, who is presiding over the DC Eagle’s bankruptcy case, told the Washington Blade on Wednesday that the identities of purchasers of property belonging to individuals or companies that file for bankruptcy become part of the court’s public records.

Justin P. Fansano, an attorney representing bankruptcy court trustee Bryan Ross, who is overseeing the DC Eagle bankruptcy case, said a full report of the auction sale of the DC Eagle intellectual property was scheduled to be posted this week on the online public docket for the Eagle’s case. Fansano said the report identifies Mark Hunker as the purchaser.

Hunker’s business partner for the Duplex Diner and the two Rehoboth restaurants, Jeff McCracken, could not immediately be reached for comment. McCracken is not listed as a buyer of the Eagle rights.

At the time it closed in May the Eagle had been D.C.’s longest continuously operating gay bar. Its closing came six months before it was scheduled to celebrate its 49th anniversary as the city’s iconic bar and club catering to the leather-Levi crowd. In recent years the DC Eagle expanded its outreach to others in the LGBTQ community by hosting popular drag shows and dance parties.

Hunker and McCracken were the subjects of a feature story in the Blade in January 2015 shortly after they purchased the Duplex Dinner, which has a mostly LGBTQ clientele at its location on 18th Street, N.W. on the edge of Adams Morgan.

In a separate profile of Hunker published in the Blade in July 2018, Hunker said he was the co-owner of JAM Holdings, a company that owned Duplex Diner, Red White & Basil, another D.C. restaurant, along with two popular restaurants in Rehoboth Beach, Eden and Jam Bistro.

In October of this year the Blade announced that its readers had selected Duplex Diner as winner of the “best carryout” food establishment in the Blade’s 2020 Best of Gay D.C. awards contest.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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