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D.C. gay bar patrons welcome proof of vaccination requirement

Eight of city’s 12 LGBTQ bars require vax or proof of negative COVID test

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JR.’s is among the city’s eight LGBTQ-identified bars that requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The overwhelming majority of patrons of the eight D.C. gay bars that announced earlier this month that patrons must show proof that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as a condition for being admitted have expressed support for the vaccination policy, according to employees and patrons of the bars.

The decision by the eight bars to require either proof of vaccination or proof that a potential customer has tested negative for the coronavirus within the previous three days came shortly after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an order reinstating the city’s requirement that face masks must be worn inside all businesses and other establishments open to the public, including bars and restaurants. The order took effect July 31.

The mayor’s order applies to all vaccinated and unvaccinated people over the age of two.

Nightlife sources have said the number of patrons appeared to have declined to some degree in early August at most of the city’s 12 LGBTQ bars, including the eight that adopted the vaccination requirement. But some associated with the bars, including David Perruzza, owner of Pitchers and lesbian sports bar A League of Her Own, which operate in the same building in Adams Morgan, said August is normally the slowest month of the year for bars and other nightlife businesses.

Others familiar with the city’s nightlife establishments have said the newly established mask requirement — rather than vaccination requirements — appeared to initially discourage some people from going out to bars and restaurants. Those familiar with nightlife establishments said regular customers quickly returned to their favorite bars and restaurants after realizing that the mask requirement does not apply to people who are “actively” eating or drinking at an establishment.

According to sources who spoke with the Washington Blade, business appeared to be booming at most of the D.C. queer bars this past weekend.

In addition to Pitchers and A League of Her Own, the other LGBTQ bars that require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test include the Logan Circle area bars Trade and Number Nine; the 17th Street, N.W. bar JR.’s located near Dupont Circle; and the U Street, N.W. area bars Nellie’s, Dirty Goose, and Uproar Lounge & Restaurant.

“Hands down, if we had one person complain about it, we had 40 people applaud it,” John Guggenmos, co-owner of Trade and Number Nine told D.C. Eater.com. He was recounting the reaction to his bars’ vaccination requirement during the first week the requirement was put in place.

“There were people that were like, ‘Oh my God, this is great, Let me text my friends a picture.’ Or Tweet it out. It’s about time. Everybody needs to step up,” Guggenmos told D.C. Eater.

The remaining four LGBTQ bars that have not adopted the vaccination or negative test requirement include the Fireplace on P Street, N.W. near Dupont Circle; the Green Lantern near Thomas Circle; Larry’s Lounge on 18th Street, N.W. near Adams Morgan; and Windows or DIK Bar, which is located above the Dupont Italian Kitchen restaurant on 17th Street, N.W. near Dupont Circle.

Also adopting a policy requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test result is the Crew Club, D.C.’s gym, sauna, and bathhouse for gay men, which reopened this past weekend at its 14th Street, N.W. location.

The Crew Club had been closed since the city’s COVID-19 related restrictions were put in place over a year ago. It announced on its website that it will initially be open only from Fridays through Sundays until further notice, when it expects to return to a seven-day, 24-hour schedule.

The eight D.C. LGBTQ bars that have adopted the vaccination or negative test requirement are among a total of about 25 bars in the city that have adopted such a policy. Nightlife observers say most of the 25 or so bars adopted the vaccination policy around the first week of August and few others have followed the lead of that initial group of bars that put the policy in place.

One source familiar with the city’s bars and nightclubs, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said nightlife industry insiders don’t believe many more will adopt a vaccination or negative COVID test requirement on grounds that D.C.-area residents have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country and most patrons will likely have been vaccinated.

Data recently released by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation in New York, based on a national survey, showed that 92 percent of LGBTQ+ adults in the U.S. had received at least one vaccination shot for COVID-19.

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2021 Best of LGBTQ DC Readers’ Choice Award Finalist Voting

Vote for your favorite finalist in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd.

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It is Decision 2021! You nominated and now we have our Top 5 finalists. Vote for your favorites in our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC categories through October 3rd. Our 2021 Best of LGBTQ DC will be announced at the Best of LGBTQ DC Awards Party on October 21st and our special issue will come out on Friday, October 22nd.

Thank you to our sponsors: ABSOLUT, PEPCO, Washington Regional Transplant Community.

Vote below or by clicking HERE.

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Veteran restauranteurs to open Drift in Rehoboth

Second Block Hospitality eyes 2022 debut for new raw bar

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Double L, Diego's Hideaway, Fourth, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, gay news, Washington Blade
A new raw bar is coming to Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Despite the generally anti-business positions of the current Rehoboth Beach Mayor and some members of the Rehoboth Beach Commission, there are still some entrepreneurs who have faith in Rehoboth Beach.

One such group is the newly announced Second Block Hospitality Group, which brings together local industry leaders Lion Gardner, Tyler Townsend, Bob Suppies, and David Gonce.

According to the partners, “The mission of Second Block Hospitality is simple…to deliver exceptional hospitality. Second Block projects will be designed to become places that matter; that bring the community together. They aim to create unique spaces that foster positivity, a creative atmosphere, and memorable experiences. Driven by this philosophy we are thoughtful in everything we do, down to the smallest detail. In all our endeavors we are committed to crafting unique guest experiences through innovative design, authentic flavors, and warm hospitality.”

Their first new venture, Drift, will be a raw bar and dining room on Baltimore Avenue. The new project, already underway, is a massive restoration designed to transform the existing building, originally built in 1890 and used as a camp meeting house, into a modern structure with historic charm. Drift restaurant will feature a refined design, open airy spaces and lots of glass for open vantage points with an indoor/outdoor bar area and intimate back patio that will add to the allure of Baltimore Avenue.

“We could not be more excited to be breaking ground on another passion project,” said Suppies. “Coming through the last year brought many new challenges to our industry, but we were able to get very creative and grow as a company, so this new venture is very exciting for us.”

Another of the partners, Gardner, brings his skill set as a longtime chef to the new venture.

“One of my roles in the company will be to oversee the menu and kitchen at Drift and all of our projects moving forward,” Gardner said. “The great thing about our ownership group is that even though each partner has his own area of expertise, there is collaboration across the board; we are all involved in all aspects of the business. I am excited to learn and contribute in other areas as well, and luckily for me I’m working with a group of really talented, experienced and passionate guys.”

Drift is slated to open sometime in early 2022, and things are in full swing for the new restaurant owners, including menu planning. Townsend said, “Drift will be a true raw bar focusing on the art of raw seafood and not just oysters, along with traditionally prepared dishes influenced by the sea. From a beverage standpoint we will feature craft cocktails and eccentric wine and beer offerings. Think small and intimate, rustic and classic, yet casual with a focus on culinary inventiveness and creative spaces.” and good times. For more information visit driftrb.com.

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McAuliffe participates in Virginia Pride roundtable

Gubernatorial candidate highlighted plans to keep Va. ‘open and welcoming’

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Terry McAuliffe, gay news, Washington Blade
(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

Terry McAuliffe on Monday met with Virginia Pride in Richmond to discuss his plans to keep the state “open and welcoming” for the LGBTQ community.

“Great opportunity to speak with @VA_Pride in Richmond this AM,” McAuliffe tweeted following the roundtable that took place at Diversity Richmond’s headquarters. “VA is the #1 state for business because we are open and welcoming — but that’s all at risk this November. Glenn Youngkin’s far-right social agenda would harm LGBTQ+ Virginians and send our economy into a ditch.”

McAuliffe and Youngkin are running a close race for the governorship, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Saturday that shows the former Virginia governor leading by a 50-47 percent margin among likely voters.

The Human Rights Campaign endorsed McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014-2018, for his record of supporting LGBTQ rights, including supporting marriage equality and signing an executive order prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ state employees as his first action in office. 

“LGBTQ leaders in Richmond had a great meeting with Gov. McAuliffe where he was able to lay out his agenda for building on the tremendous progress Virginia has made towards equality,” said Virginia Pride Program Director James Millner in an email to the Washington Blade. “The governor talked extensively about his record on LGBTQ issues and promised to work with us to ensure that every LGBTQ Virginian is able to live openly and authentically.”

McAuliffe’s legacy includes welcoming businesses turned off by North Carolina’s passage of its anti-transgender “bathroom bill.” 

When North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a law requiring students to use public restrooms and locker rooms aligned with the gender on their birth certificates, took effect in 2016, McAullife recruited CoStar, a real estate information company that operates databases for Apartments.com, ApartmentFinder.com and similar companies, to move its headquarters to Richmond. This recruitment brought 730 jobs to the state.

David Dorsch, a senior vice president at Cushman and Wakefield, which represented CoStar nationally, told the Charlotte Business Journal that CoStar’s primary reason for choosing “Richmond over Charlotte was HB 2.”

Youngkin is a former business executive who previously ran the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm named by the HRC in 2019 as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” in its annual Corporate Equality Index. HRC, however, has called out Youngkin for “anti-LGBTQ and transphobic language” during his current campaign.

McAuliffe in April released an LGBTQ rights platform that includes a call to repeal the so-called “conscience clause,” which allows religious-based adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Governor Ralph Northam, who was McAuliffe’s former lieutenant governor and has signed historic LGBTQ-inclusive legislation during his time in office, also endorsed McAuliffe for governor.

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