June 24, 2021

Still Here and Still Queer: The Gay Restaurant Endures

Scott Frankel’s favorite memories of New York gay restaurants aren’t about food.

Universal Grill cranked “Dancing Queen” on birthdays. There was that incredibly hot Italian waiter at Food Bar. Florent was around the corner from a notorious sex club in the meatpacking district. Manatus was so gay, it had a sobriquet: Mana-tush.

Gay restaurants, said Mr. Frankel, the Tony-nominated composer of the musical “Grey Gardens,” “made you feel like you belonged.”

But all those places he so fondly remembers are long closed, as are Harvest, Orbit’s and several others listed in an article, headlined “Restaurants That Roll Out the Welcome Mat for Gay Diners,” that ran in this newspaper 27 years ago. It now reads like an obituary.

Restaurants fold all the time, perhaps nowhere more so than in New York, and perhaps never as much as during the Covid era. The pandemic hit the country’s urban gay restaurants especially hard, said Justin Nelson, the president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. MeMe’s Diner, a popular queer restaurant in Brooklyn, permanently closed in November, citing shutdown measures and a lack of government support.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/28/dining/gay-restaurants.html

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