Greg Zehnacker, 55, the principal owner of the D.C. gay bar Green Lantern since 2001 and a popular figure in the D.C. LGBT community for more than 30 years, died Feb. 18 while on vacation near Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“It is with overwhelming sadness that we share with you the death of Green Lantern’s beloved owner, Greg Zehnacker,” a statement released by the bar says. “It appears that he died peacefully in his sleep,” the statement says.
The statement, which was posted on the Green Lantern Facebook page, says Zehnacker was a fixture in the D.C.-area LGBT community since the 1980s, when he worked in several gay bars, including the Lost and Found, Pier 9, Rascals and Peppers.
“He was a supporter of D.C.’s many gay clubs and organizations, and routinely provided space at Green Lantern for charity events and meetings, including, among others, the D.C. Center’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Working Group, the Centaurs MC [motorcycle club], and the Washington Scandals Rugby Club,” the statement says.
“Greg loved bringing together people from all walks of life and ensuring they had a good time under the Green Lantern’s roof,” according to the statement. “In that spirit, and as a way of honoring Greg, we will be open during this difficult time and encourage all to come in, raise a glass to Greg, and share your favorite memories of our friend and colleague.”
Derrick Jones, the Green Lantern’s social media director, said Zehnacker was also involved in past years in real estate endeavors. Jones said Zehnacker was born and raised in the D.C. area.
Joel Weinstein, co-owner of the D.C. gay bar Fireplace, said he and his brother and business partner Steve Weinstein along with another partner first opened the Green Lantern in the early 1990s. He said he and his partners closed the bar around 1995 or 1996 due to, among other things, their opening and operating other gay bars in D.C. and Pennsylvania.
He said he was pleased to learn several years later that someone had opened a new gay bar in the same building and called it the Green Lantern. Although he didn’t know Zehnacker, Weinstein said he wished the new owner well in his effort to bring the establishment back to life.
The Green Lantern’s statement says further details regarding memorials and tributes to Zehnacker would be announced soon.
Zehnacker is survived by his partner, Tom Tarantino, who, along with Zehnacker, has lived in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood; his parents, Raymond and Charlotte Zehnacker; and his brother Mike Zehnacker and sister-in-law Carol.