April 19, 2020 at 5:06 pm EDT | by Joey DiGuglielmo
QUEERY: Rob Heim
Rob Heim, gay news, Washington Blade
Rob Heim (Photo courtesy of Heim)

Like many business owners, the folks at Shaw’s Tavern (520 Florida Ave., N.W.) are getting creative about how to get through the coronavirus pandemic. It’s open for takeout and delivery with limited staff but about 95 percent of its 40 employees got laid off when it closed for full service March 16.

General manager/co-owner Rob Heim, who’s been there since 2012, says he’s been talking to the staff almost daily in group chats and says they’re his biggest concern.

“I’m worried about how this has affected them financially … and I also feel terrible for our entertainment folks — especially Kristina Kelly, who hosts our Sunday night drag show and Jill Parsons, who hosts our Wednesday Night piano bar.”

To help, Shaw’s has been donating food to industry workers weekly at Hook Hall, selling virtual cocktails that are redeemable when the bar reopens (the money goes to staff), selling Champagne, hosting online trivia nights and selling employee-generated art and masks for staff funds. Find out more at shawstavern.com.

Heim says Shaw’s regulars have been “incredibly loyal.” He describes the bar as an LGBT-welcoming neighborhood bar with gay-specific events. About 25 percent of the staff is LGBT and about 35-40 percent of the average clientele, Heim guesses.

Personally, Heim says the quarantine has been “depressing” but says, “My husband has been my rock and he helps me get through.”

Heim, 46, who grew up in Greenbelt, Md., has been with husband William Knight for 13 years. They wed in 2015. Heim has been in the area since 1985.

He lives in Dupont/Adams Morgan and enjoys time with his husband, playing trombone and time with friends in his free time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I came out to my friends in college and to my family when I was 30.

Who’s your LGBTQ hero?


What LGBTQ stereotype most annoys you?

I hate the word “Queenie” — let people be who they are.

What’s your proudest professional achievement?

Becoming part owner of Shaw’s Tavern as of January this year. It was a complete surprise.

What terrifies you?

This virus and how it is affecting everyone and everything.

What’s something trashy or vapid you love?

Sunday Funday bar hopping with friends.

What’s your greatest domestic skill?

If you ask my husband, he would probably say, “nothing.” But I’d say cooking.

What’s your favorite LGBTQ movie or show?
“The Broken Hearts Club”

What’s your social media pet peeve?

When people constantly put other people down.

What would the end of the LGBTQ movement look like to you?

When everyone can live life without labels.

What’s the most overrated social custom?

Shaking hands — that’s so yesterday.

What was your religion, if any, as a child and what is it today?

Raised Catholic. I don’t practice religiously, but I do pray because I do believe there is something higher.

What’s D.C.’s best hidden gem?

Wednesday and Sunday nights at Shaw’s Tavern of course!

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

On “Schitt’s Creek” it was OK that people were gay and they were not labeled.

What celebrity death hit you hardest?

Whitney Houston

If you could redo one moment from your past, what would it be?

My first time at New York Pride.

What are your obsessions?

“Dateline,” “Schitt’s Creek,” “Head’s Up,” “Roulette!”

Finish this sentence — It’s about damn time:

… this president is gone!

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That there were so many other people out there just like me.

Why Washington?

Basically raised here, my best friend from high school is still here, went to college here and I still love it!

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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