ES Local: Dining in DC’s (Not So) Gaybourhood
Every city has one — a gay neighbourhood ( fine — neighborhood to you yanks). L.A. has W. Hollywood, Chicago has Boystown and San Francisco has the Castro. Here in DC we have Logan and Dupont Circle. They’re the center of gay life, business and pride.
But the recent uprising of restaurants on 14th St here in DC has some of my friends and I thinking about how the current transformation is changing the neighbourhood, from a GLBT dining perspective. Over the last few weeks we have seen the opening of Masa 14, Birch & Barley and ChurchKey along with the upcoming developments of Diamond District Seafood Co., Estadio Restaurant and Cork and Fork. None of these restaurants appear to be GLBT owned or run establishments, which is strange due to the predominantly gay neighbourhood in which they reside.
Unlike Playbill Cafe, I am not suggesting that any of the existing restaurants such as Cafe St. Ex, Rice or even Bar Pilar were ever exclusively gay-centric, but walk into any of these on any given night (along with Commissary, Logan Tavern or Posto) and you will find a predominantly GLBT presence; they are simply considered part of the “gaybourhood.”
It’s not all about one restaurant, but ChurchKey has created something of a quandary to my friends and I, as it seems to be lacking any sort of gay presence at all, which is surprising. For those of you unfamiliar with that location, it once was home to a gay restaurant chain called Hamburger Mary’s, which shuttered and was replaced by gay eatery Dakota Cowgirl and their upstairs bar called Titan’s, which also closed in 2007
So given its location, one would presume that the gay community might embrace this new establishment. I don’t sense any sort of resentment toward it now that it is a non-gay-run restaurant, but there really is no visible gay presence at all. There is however a very strong, dare I say it “bridge and tunnel” crowd.
I’m British, so I was drinking cask ales from the age of 15 (sorry Mum) and I appreciate that ChurchKey is a beer connoisseur’s dream and would draw many people from across the DMV, but it is also a neighbourhood bar, in a gay neighbourhood, so I just can’t get my head around the lack of gay patrons.
What do you DC readers think? Does it bother you that the gaybourhood is changing, with a noticible lack of gay-run restaurants? Is there even a need for a restaurant to be designated gay, or is it a non-issue?
(Photo: M.V. Jantzen)