It seems that EFN Lounge and Motley Bar, legally known as Wami, LLC, is the latest DC gay bar to bite the dust.A quick trip to EFN's webpage results in a page load error. This could mean one of two things ... either the webmaster is asleep at the wheel or the blog post is true. So I did some searching around online and found corroboration of the story. Just to be certain, I then went onto Facebook to check the statuses of people I know who work for EFN Lounge. The status update on 16 August 2010 around 8pm of a friend who bartends there stated, "OWNERS EMAILED STAFF: MOTLEY BAR IS CLOSED!!!"
So it's official. EFN Lounge & Motley Bar is dead.
The bar, then known as BeBar, engaged in a bitter fight with a church that didn't even occupy the same ANC at the bar. After the six month struggle, BeBar opened to much fanfare and hoopla back in September of 2006. The pre-launch party was wall-to-wall people with hardly room to breath, much less move. The gay bar was a pioneer, opening in a part of the city that was much farther east than any of its competition. Some in the city thought that this would bring traffic and business to an area that desperately needed both while others considered the neighborhood too unsafe for such late night activities. Eventually, the critics appeared to be right as attacks against gays patronizing the bar began to increase. One of my best friends was almost a victim of a brutal attack after leaving the bar; only his quick wits and quicker legs potentially saved his life.
In May of 2009, the bar underwent a dramatic reinvention under new ownership and emerged as EFN Lounge & Motley Bar. Several new events (such at Bear Happy Hour, ActiveDuty, fashion shows, jello wrestling, and POZ) were introduced as a way to bring patrons back. But, it seems, the patrons just couldn't be bothered to keep coming back.
Perhaps the neighborhood is still perceived to be too unsafe to risk the visit. Perhaps the rumors of underage patrons kept legal-aged patrons away. Perhaps the vibe just wasn't right. Whatever the reason(s), the District has lost a gay establishment that tried to cater to parts of the gay community that were too often overlooked.
Now, with the reporting part out of the way, I'd like to give you my thoughts. I was never a fan of the bar. It was too expensive, too pretentious, too full of itself to be enjoyable. I would go from time to time because I had friends who worked there. Once the new ownership took over, things took a nosedive. The attitude was nasty. The bar made underhanded and shady moves on other gay establishments' business (*coughBearHappyHourcough*). The general manager of Cobalt suffered multiple personal attacks on his character and reputation at the hands of EFN Lounge management.
Disclaimer: I work at Cobalt as the host of the long-running Wednesday Night Karaoke.
I'm a firm believer that what goes around comes around. While I feel for the people who are now out of work, I do not lament the closing of this bar. To any ownership that informs its employees that they are unemployed effective immediately via email, I say "stay classy". And to any business that is so insecure of itself that it needs to make personal attacks on another bar's manager and secure patronage through shady moves, I say "good riddance".
UPDATE: 08/17/2010 11:45: Metro Weekly has more on this story. It's sad that, even in closing, the place is still dysfunctional.