Main | Sunday, November 16, 2014

Venerable Philly Bar Closes After 50 Years

Philadelphia's Westbury bar, which was first advertised in gay guides back in the early 60s, has closed after last month's fire in the hotel above it. From their Facebook page:
With a very broken heart, I have to announce, the Westbury Bar and Restaurant will not be reopening. Our extensive efforts trying get an exception from the city have not worked. After 30 years in our current location, and many years at the 15th Street location, the Westbury has given our all to serve the community with a friendly oasis from the rigors of life. I hope we will be remembered fondly. I would like to thank all the local business's and patrons who supported the hourly employees these past 3 weeks. The community support was just overwhelming. In closing, I would like to thank our neighborhood sports teams, choirs, etc. Our loyal customers who always became part of the family. And a special thanks to the most dedicated and hard working staff I could ever have hoped to work with. Thanks for the great years!
According to Philadelphia Gay News, the entire building must be retrofitted with a new sprinkler system. JMG reader Ed provides us with an epitaph:
The Westbury was a come-as-you-are corner joint, as welcoming to lesbians, hipster gays and their straight posses, and the community's most colorful members as much as the ball-cap-and-jeans crowd of mature-ish men who dominated the clientele. The tavern fare was reasonable both in price and quality, and the extensive beer selection a welcome gay-bar-first in one of America's top beer towns. Marred only by horrible, horrible music from one of those bar-destroying digital jukeboxes, the atmosphere was warm and open, arranged for interaction with friendly patrons around the central bar, viewing/ignoring all the sportsing happening on those giant flat screens, and allowing quiet confabs in the elevated corner by the fireplace where you could still evaluate prospects being carded at the door. I got laid. It will be missed.
Several weeks ago friends and I dropped in at the Westbury for what we thought would be a solemn early afternoon cocktail before heading to a funeral. We were surprised to find the place mobbed with rowdy rugby players scarfing pizza. We agreed that our late friend would have enjoyed that. Visit the Gayborhood Guru for a fascinating history of the Westbury.

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