As I’ve recounted here in the past, Chelsea’s formerly famed gay nightlife has long been on the decline, supplanted by many newer clubs uptown in Hell’s Kitchen. But Gym Bar, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month, has just scored a lease for another ten years.
“We didn’t want to move, I didn’t want to move anywhere but where we are,” Schmutzler told DNAinfo New York. GYM, which proclaims itself “NY’s premier bar for balls, boys and beers,” has been in its home at 167 Eighth Ave. since 2005, Schmultzer said. The bar is a regular hangout for gay sports leagues that play nearby and its basement “Locker Room” shows the NFL Sunday lineup, according to the bar’s website. Rising rents along Eighth Avenue in Chelsea have been forcing out small businesses for years, and many storefronts are still empty. But Schmutzler was able to work out a deal with his landlord, he said, partly by convincing him that the store could stand vacant. “We had a diagram of all the empty storefronts,” along Eighth Avenue, Schmultzer said. Schmultzer would not specify how much his new rent is, but said it was no “sweetheart deal.” He was able to freeze it for a few years and get a five-year extension option on the new lease, he said.
Two years ago the Rawhide, a Chelsea landmark for 33 years, closed its doors in the face of a soaring rent increase. The space has since remained empty but a deal was signed in January to turn the storefront into a “high-end lingerie boutique,” whatever that is. Interestingly, the landlord says he first turned down offers from at least five gay bars before making the deal. Is it possible that Chelsea could make a comeback? (Tipped by JMG reader Douglas)
RELATED: Gym Bar has a second outlet in West Hollywood and a third location is reportedly planned for Florida – Wilton Manors would be my guess. Another gay sports bar chain, Boxers, now has three locations in Manhattan and one in Philadelphia with more said to be on the way.