Minze reopens Hideaway, hopes to have liquor license soon; fate of Crews Inn uncertain, but reopening may be in the works
In the last few months, two of Dallas’ longest-running gay bars, Crews Inn and Bill’s Hideaway, have closed their doors.
But the executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, an association of about 20 gay and lesbian bars in the city, said he doesn’t believe the closures serve as any indication that business is declining for the industry overall.
In recent years some have speculated that as LGBT people gain acceptance in society, gay bars will begin to die off, a phenomenon that’s already been reported in some major cities.
But Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said he doesn’t think the closures are a sign of this trend in Dallas, and he noted that at least two new gay bars have opened in recent months.
"I don’t think that there’s any danger even in the distant future of there being a total demise of gay and lesbian clubs," Doughman said, adding that most traditionally all-gay bars now have their share of straight customers. "I think the clubs on Cedar Springs will always be primarily gay or lesbian."
Doughman compared the closure of Crews Inn and Bill’s Hideaway to past closures of other longtime gay bars in Dallas, such as John L.’s or the Plantation.
"There have been a lot of clubs that have come and gone that have been a significant part of history," Doughman said. "I just think it’s a matter of evolution. I think it’s a matter of times have changed, and I think some of it is people not keeping up with the changes."
Doughman added that neither Crews Inn nor Bill’s Hideaway was a member of the Tavern Guild. He also said he doesn’t know details about why they closed.
Paul Minze, who leases the property at 4144 Buena Vista St. that’s home to Bill’s Hideaway, said the bar closed Friday, May 22 after longtime owner William "Bill" Munoz abruptly removed his liquor license from the wall and disappeared. Minze, who owns a real estate company, said Munoz first opened the bar in 1983. Minze took over the bar’s lease in 2007 and Munoz has subleased it from him ever since.
Minze said he’s now stuck with the lease and roughly 11 employees are without jobs.
"I still don’t know what the problem is, why he would do that without consulting me," Minze said, adding that Munoz hasn’t returned his phone calls.
In response to a phone message from Dallas Voice, a man who said he’s a family member of Munoz’s contacted the newspaper on Thursday, June 18.
The man, who asked not to be identified, said Munoz would be unable to comment because he’s undergoing treatment in Oklahoma for non-life-threatening injuries he sustained in an automobile accident.
"He is doing everything he can to get that club back open," the man said. "The concern is that whatever’s going to happen down there, it’s going to take a little while longer. Our main concern is, we don’t want to inflame the situation or make it worse right now."
Minze said he reopened Bill’s Hideaway on his own with limited hours last week. However, he can’t serve beer, wine or liquor because Munoz took possession of the license.
Minze said he’s working to have Munoz evicted from the sublease and to obtain his own liquor license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, but he said he’s unsure of the status of his application.
Bill’s Hideaway is well known for its large patio, which features gazebos and a fountain, as well as its live music. The bar catered to an older set, which included many regulars. Minze said the average age of customers was about 36.
"It’s an absolute landmark in not only our [the gay] community but the Dallas community," Minze said. "We have people come in here from all walks of life because they like the patio and they like the music. … The greatest asset of the bar was the patrons."
At nearby Crews Inn, 3215 N. Fitzhugh Ave., co-owners David Moore and Terry Seabolt haven’t returned numerous phone messages since the bar closed on May 6. Crews Inn is believed to have opened as early as the 1970s.
Records show Moore and Seabolt owe a total of more than $41,000 to the state of Texas, a liquor wholesaler and Dallas County.
TABC suspended Crews Inn’s liquor license in early May after the bar failed to pay gross receipts sales tax on mixed beverages.
R.J. DeSilva, a spokesman for the Texas Comptroller’s Offfice, said this week that Crews Inn owes $29,800 in gross receipts sales tax for the period from December through April. Records also show the bar owes $7,862 to wholesaler Buckeye Liquor, as well as $3,826 in back property taxes to Dallas County.
DeSilva said the Comptroller’s Office received a payment for an unspecified amount from Crews Inn earlier this month, and Dallas Voice has learned that another party may be trying to reopen the bar.
Ron Adams, of Metro Games Inc. in Irving, said he believes Andy Krumm, who’s previously owned other gay bars in Dallas, may be working to revive Crews Inn.
Metro Games Inc. provides vending for many bars and clubs in Dallas, and Adams’ name appeared on an a city building inspection document that was posted on the locked door of Crews Inn earlier this week.
"I don’t know why my name’s listed on there," Adams said. "I think Andy’s looking at doing something over there, because I know we’ve talked to him about the vending, but I don’t think there’s anything concrete at this point. I know if Andy does the club, we would do the vending."
Adams added that the property is still owned by Moore and Seabolt. Krumm couldn’t be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of Oak Lawn, at least one new gay bar is hoping to capitalize on the departure of Crews Inn, which had been one of only three clubs in town centered around male dancers.
Cherrie’s, at 2506 Knight St., near Maple Avenue, was scheduled to open Friday, June 19.
Cherrie’s owner Kyle Wood said it will be "a premiere male model club" with valet parking, bottle service and a VIP area. The bar will also feature dancers in shower scenes and/or adorned with blacklight paint.
"Instead of just having the guy stand on the box and dance, we’re going to be doing a couple of other things," Wood said. "I think there’s a big market for it, and I think we’re doing it a lot different than just the house-party-type atmosphere or the dive bar look. We’re trying to do a lounge bar with entertainment."
Another new gay bar catering to Latinos — Los Rieles — reportedly has opened on Industrial Avenue near downtown Dallas, but the owners couldn’t be reached for comment.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 19, 2009.