News that the building used by the former Dupont Circle gay nightclub Apex will be the home of a new lesbian nightclub called Phase 1 of Dupont represents the first of a series of changes in D.C.’s gay bar scene expected to unfold over the next several months.
The Phase 1 of Dupont will become a branch of the Capitol Hill lesbian bar Phase 1, which holds the distinction of being D.C.’s longest continuously operating gay bar. It’s owned by Allen Carroll, who also owns Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, a gay nightclub in the Buzzard’s Point section of Southwest D.C.
Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is nationally known for its drag shows and nude male dancers. In 2009 it became the only one of the popular gay nightspots displaced by Washington Nationals Stadium to reopen in a new location.
Marty Chernoff, the owner of Ziegfeld’s/Secrets’ current building at 1824 Half Street, S.W., said Carroll recently leased an adjoining building that Chernoff owns, raising speculation that Carroll may be planning to open yet another club or use the new space to expand Ziegfeld’s/Secrets.
Carroll couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“They are obviously very good tenants,” Chernoff said of Ziegfeld’s/Secrets. “I’ve known Allen Carroll for more than 30 years and he runs a very good shop over there.”
Chernoff said he doesn’t know what Carroll’s plans are for the adjoining building but he would be happy to help in any way he could as the landlord should Carroll decide to use the space for another bar or club.
With prospects unclear about the timing of expected real estate development in the Buzzard’s Point area where Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is located, Chernoff said he gave Carroll an option to retain his lease for at least eight more years.
With the extended lease option, Carroll would be protected from displacement by development as long as the city doesn’t exercise its authority to invoke eminent domain to force businesses to move from the area, as it did to clear the way for the new baseball stadium.
Across town, the lounge and bar Mova, which operated until earlier this year at 1435 P St., N.W., plans to reopen in October in its new location at 2204 14th St., N.W., according to owner Babak Movahedi.
The new building, in the midst of the rapidly developing 14th Street entertainment corridor, has a roof deck that Movahedi said will accommodate smokers. It’s located at the corner of 14th and W streets.
Movahedi said the new Mova obtained its liquor license in July and is awaiting a city construction permit to complete interior renovation work. He said he welcomes the opening of other gay bars and clubs, including Phase 1 of Dupont.
“I believe the more bars and clubs that open in the gay community, the better it is for all of us,” he said.
In a separate development, LGBT residents and regular patrons of gay bars in the popular 17th Street entertainment area near Dupont Circle have been following with interest plans for the opening of Uproar Lounge and Restaurant, which is expected to cater to a gay clientele.
In a promotional campaign on Facebook, the new establishment’s executive vice president, Chad Cox, and manager, Paul Mecredy, have announced they planned to open this summer at 1603 17th St., N.W., a basement space that served as home to the former Club Chaos, a gay bar.
But residents of the building, which includes residential apartments on the upper floors, say the space where Uproar plans to open remains largely an empty shell. Residents received a notice recently from the property manager that construction work in the space would begin soon.
Cox and Mecredy did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A phone number to reach the owners or managers is not included on the Facebook page or on Uproar’s separate website.
A spokesperson for the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration said no one has come forward as of this week to apply for a transfer of the Chaos liquor license, which must take place before a new establishment seeking to serve alcoholic beverages can open.
A message by popular D.C. drag performer Monet Dupree, whom sources say will play some role Uproar’s operation, states, “It’s coming soon…changing the gay life style again in D.C….Uproar DC…Come get you a piece.”
A May 11 posting on its Facebook page announced that Uproar Lounge and Restaurant is “now hiring,” saying it was accepting applications for bartender, servers, kitchen staff, barbacks, and security personnel.
Under the city’s liquor law, the new establishment would have to apply for and obtain an “entertainment endorsement” to the restaurant license that Chaos had in order to allow any live entertainment, dancing or music played by a DJ, said ABRA spokesperson Cynthia Simms.
Nearby residents filed a protest against Chaos before ABRA to oppose the renewal of Chaos’s liquor license on grounds that it violated the law by offering those forms of entertainment without first obtaining an entertainment endorsement. Some Chaos customers said opposition from nearby residents who filed a legal protest against Chaos prompted the owner to eventually close the bar.
A liquor license moratorium for the 17th Street entertainment strip would prevent Uproar from obtaining a new liquor license, including a nightclub license, according to activists familiar with the D.C. nightlife scene. The only way it can open is to secure a transfer of the existing license held by Chaos, which ABRA spokesperson Simms says is being held by ABRA in “safe keeping.”