The local bear crowd that used to gather every Friday night at EFN Lounge/Motley Bar has unofficially settled on Town as its new home.
Though the group has no established leadership, former Motley bartender Nicholas Baatz negotiated with Town owner Ed Bailey to have the group gather there. Green Lantern and Cobalt also made efforts to woo the bears but Town has had the largest turnout the last two Fridays.
“Without a doubt, Town is the new space,” said Kevin Smiffy, a bear happy hour regular. “I went to all three places the first week. I know [Green Lantern owner] Greg [Zehn]. He’s a good friend so I kind of owed it to him to stop by but there were maybe 20 people there as opposed to a couple hundred at Town. Town, by far, was the place to be.”
But doesn’t Green Lantern’s vibe suit the Bear crowd better?
“You would think on paper it seems that way,” Smiffy said. “But Green Lantern isn’t really conducive to bear happy hour because it’s two levels and the upstairs really isn’t that big. Town is one big open space with the bar against the wall. Yes, it’s more posh and not what you think a bear would be into, but who knows?”
Bailey said he and Baatz discussed that concern.
“I think they had some questions about whether or not we would even be interested,” Bailey said. “They perceived the image of our business, I guess, and didn’t know if we would even want their crowd there. It was a little bit of an eye opener for us because evidently some people think of us as a twink bar, which we aren’t. I mean, yes, we have our fair share of twinks, but I wouldn’t call us that though some have that perception. But yes, we’re excited to have them and it’s been a fantastic showing so far.”
Bailey says about 250 attended Aug. 20 and about 350 last week. Several provisions were made. Ordinarily Town doesn’t open until 10 on Friday nights but opens now at 6 on Fridays for the bears. They stay downstairs and Baatz arranged to bring their own DJ. Bailey provides pizza — they went through 30 extra-large pizzas last week. Bailey also installed draft beer kegs which Town didn’t previously have. Bud Lite and Shock Top are on tap. And rail drinks and bottled beers are sold for $2 cheaper than usual.
Bailey even instructed the drag troupe, which goes on at 10, to alter its first few numbers to find things that would appeal to the bears so they’d stick around.
“Everything’s been well worth it,” Bailey said. “It’s been delightful.”