The ongoing Covid pandemic has hammered the commercial LGBTQ scene and many beloved venues have had to close for good.
However, amongst the doom and gloom, there are a few rays of hope. Boxers NYC is one of New York’s best-known LGBTQ bar brands. The sports bar chain, famed for its hot bar staff and friendly welcome, recently announced it was working on opening a new venue in Hell’s Kitchen.
The original Boxers NYC opened in Chelsea in 2010 This was followed by locations in Hell’s Kitchen and Washington Heights. However, all had to shut down last year because of the pandemic. The Chelsea location has been temporarily shuttered until restrictions are lifted. The Washington Heights location has been closed for good, according to co-owner Bob Fluet, in a call to GayCities.
Related: Gay bars in New York City
The previous Hell’s Kitchen location will also not be returning. However, the team have taken on the lease of a new Hell’s Kitchen location and are now working on refurbishing it. They had originally hoped to unveil the new location in spring, but that’s now looking more likely to be June.
“I don’t think the world’s going to open in spring, to be honest,” says Fluet, who says they’re aiming to have the bar open in time for Pride.
“We have a new 12-year lease we’ve renegotiated for Chelsea,” Fluet said when asked about the state of play with each of the bars.
“Washington Heights, unfortunately, we couldn’t and they wouldn’t renegotiate, so we’ve had to close that location for good. And Hell’s Kitchen, we couldn’t renegotiate either, but we’ve been able to find an amazing space across the street that will have a roof deck. It will have a mezzanine and an 18-foot high ceiling, so it’s a much more exciting space. We have a new 15-year lease there as well, so we’re in it for the long haul.”
He says the new Hell’s Kitchen venue is a similar size to the previous location: “The roof deck is a little smaller but it will be the only roof deck in Hell’s Kitchen.”
It will also have a basement bar.
Fluet says the last few months have been extremely challenging but remains grateful for federal and state assistance.
“I think the new round of PPT (Payroll Protection Plan) should be very helpful to us. The first round was amazing and probably saved the businesses. We have to be thankful for that. The second round will really help as well. It will literally keep us in business. And New York has done a good job of trying to protect the tenants with moratoriums on evictions and closures.”
View this post on Instagram