17 August 2010

EFN Lounge & Motley Bar Shutters Its Doors

I ran across a blog post last night with news that I honestly couldn't believe.
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.


Anonymous said...

I think the reason Bear Happy Hour Moved to Motley was because many many many bears hated Cobalt and wanted a new place. Bears were very happy to leave Cobalt, a place they did not feel welcome.

And don't think the POZ nights and military nights were a bust. They were pretty popular. For whatever reason, these parties felt they needed to leave EFN. Management could not keep the party promoters from leaving to other establishments instead (Green Lantern and Nellie's, respectively).

People were very happy to come to EFN's area. The parking is great. I don't think they were scared of the neighborhood. It was the management that kept chasing people away, apparently.

The Diarist said...

Bears are a fickle bunch. I know firsthand that Cobalt management tried their best to balance providing a place where the bears could be comfortable and happy while maintaining their already-established Friday night crowd. It was a difficult line to walk, and they failed at it. I can understand that. But I don't think that the BHH patrons really tried, either, to make it work. Still, I hope BHH finds a new home ... they are definitely an under-served part of the community.

I agree that POZ and ActiveDuty were successful parties. I know of many people who went to both frequently and, according to them, the place was always busy on those nights.

I agree that it appears that management is what drove those promoters and, thus, business away. Maybe Mr. Gray's statements in the MW article are accurate and the other owners didn't "get it". If that is the case (and, again, it appears to be), I stand by my editorial.

Tuffie said...

Am I the only homo in DC who saw the writing on the wall in regards to Be Bar/EFN? Poor location, lack of steady solid management, a half-ass remodel, and spam level advertisements/event promotions that annoyed more then they enticed not only possible clients but also fellow gay bar owners and managers by redick price undercutting.

I'm sad to see a gay owned business have to close its doors but this bar was doomed from the start and instead of trying to maintain its 'gay' brand, which was clearly failing, it should have re-branded itself to appease the large str8 populations living in Penn Quarter and Chinatown areas. Maybe then it would have stood a chance of turning its business around enough to launch a second bar later.