Years ago, Gays went to the bars to meet people, have fun and enjoy being with other Gay people. In today’s world with the acceptance of Gays, Gays can go to straight bars and feel just as comfortable as going to a Gay bar.
Other factors have stopped people from going out to the bars. Cover charges for no reason is one thing. For those who are not into drag queen shows, they have opted out of going to bars. Last year we went to a leather bar in St. Louis and they had drag queens performing. Several customers did an about face and walked out of the bar.
A lot of bars have bachelorette parties where straight women come in to see the drag shows and makes the Gays feel very uncomfortable. It makes money for the bar owners but they are alienating the Gay clientele.
Rising cost of drinks and the “drinking and driving” idea has stopped a lot of people from going to bars. And then there is the Smartphone and the different websites to ‘hook up’ and that has had a tremendous effect on bar business.
Rising costs of operating a business with rent, insurance, utilities, etc. are rising and forcing a lot of bars out of business. There are also a lot of owners of Gay bars who simply don’t understand how to operate a business. Long ago all you had to do was open a Gay bar and Gays would flock to the bar. This certainly is not the case anymore.
Since we travel from coast to coast a lot, we have walked in to hundreds of Gay bars or the past many years. We have seen bartenders rip off the owners and in today’s world the worst thing is to have a bartender on his smart phone and doesn’t even seem to care if you are there or not. There are a few Gay bars that still do it right and take care of their paying customers and we salute them.
Some of the bars that we really enjoyed in the past and now out of business are listed below:
The Tropics in Ft. Lauderdale which we have been going to for years closed their doors last year. It was always packed and one of the busiest bars in the city. It was sold and the new owners simply didn’t know how to operate a business properly so what was once a real cash cow, now is closed. In a resort city like Ft. Lauderdale one really has to be dumb to lose a bar such as this. Thankfully another smart businessman opened up the old Chardee’s which had been around for years until it closed about 13 years ago. Now 95% of all the patrons of the old Tropics will drink down there.
Burkhart’s in Atlanta had been a very thriving Gay for many years and we have been there several times on our driving trip down to Ft. Lauderdale. Some owners just don’t get it ! Any business depends on it’s customer base and for some strange reason, the owner turned out to be VERY racially stupid. All of his staff left and his customers stopped going there as well. Yep, he had to close the doors last January. Atlanta had already had two other bars closed due to not enough business.
The Palace Bar in South Beach which has been an “institution” for years was getting ready to close do to high rent, however the owner was able to find another location just 2 blocks away so the Palace will continue.
The Gangway in San Francisco, the city’s oldest Gay bar there closed last month. We have been to San Francisco many times over the years and never even heard of it. We had always thought that the Twin Peaks bar in Castro was the oldest Gay bar in the city. Well, we guess that is now !
The Double Header in Seattle, which was thought to be the oldest Gay bar in the country closed a couple of years ago.
One of our very favorite Gay bars was the Black Crown in Denver, Colorado. It was a very upscale and handsome bar. Unfortunately the owners simply did not know how to operate the business and then sold it a guy who really didn’t know how to operate a business. Sadly it also closed after just a couple of years.
In life, things change and the intelligent people know that they have to change with it. Just always remember the good times.
TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).