After operating for five glorious years on West Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard Flaming Saddles, one of the strips liveliest gay bars will close its doors forever. The wild-west themed bar is sadly just one in an ever-growing list of business that have met their demise in the face of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.
The venue, like many other businesses in West Hollywood received a Small Business Administration forgivable loan, for an amount between $175,000 and $350,000 dollars. The money allowed the bar to cover operations and employee payroll expenses, but after 5 months of forced closure the owners were forced to make the inevitable decision and cut their losses.
Owners of the venue Jacqui Squatriglia and Chris Barnes this week released a statement on social media saying.
“With the heaviest of hearts, we are sad to say that Flaming Saddles WeHo will not be reopening at 8811 Santa Monica Blvd.
“I would like to thank you all for your hard work and dedication. We had become a force to be reckoned with in WeHo and I could not be prouder of the brand and all of you.
“Covid-19 has wreaked havoc globally, and with a better national strategy here in the U.S. perhaps things would of [sic] been different. With the rules as they stand today there is no way we could of fulfilled our fiscal obligations that were presented to us at this location.”
“There was nothing like it on the boulevard,” Kevin Spencer, a former Flaming Saddles bartender who ran regular nights at the venue said of the closure. “I’m grateful that Jacqui and Chris were able to bring their unique experience to our community and I’m very sad to hear it was the usual story of landlord greed that got in the way of their ability to weather this crisis.”
The closure of Flaming Saddles comes soon after neighbouring gay venue Gym Bar announced on July 5 that they will not be re-opening.
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on our individual lives and collective existence as a community, let the closure of such venues stand as a timely reminder that our own bars and venues could easily succumb to the same fate – particularly in Melbourne where our venues have now been closed for over 5 months. This is the time when we need to band together and support those space which provide us, in turn with so much. None of us are out of the woods just yet and it would be a frightening reality to emerge from this current situation into a world devoid of nightlife and the campery of gay bars.