New nightclub is 2nd LGBT bar to open in Cedar Creek Lake area
GUN BARREL CITY — Cedar Creek Lake’s second gay nightclub, Garlow’s, finally opened March 26 after the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission issued the new bar a liquor license that afternoon just before 5 p.m.
Word spread quickly, and about 30 people showed up that night to socialize and imbibe as the bar staff stocked the refrigerators and liquor shelves. The crowd stayed through the evening until closing time at midnight.
"This is fantastic," said owner Michael Slingerland. "It’s so wonderful to see this happening at last."
An all-day opening celebration planned for many weeks will become a reality at last on Saturday, April 3.
The new nightclub was scheduled to open March 13 after a commission official promised the license would be processed by March 10, but that didn’t happen.
The bar owner and staff, feverishly working to get the nightclub ready in time for a big opening celebration, learned March 12 the license’s processing would be delayed until at least March 15.
"We were ready to go, but the state wasn’t," said Troy Luethe, a spokesman for the nightclub who has helped Slingerland develop the business project and will work as one of the daytime bartenders.
As final touches were being made on the nightclub’s interior, Luethe had to start notifying people the opening would be delayed a week. At least 300 invitations to the opening had already been sent out.
The club has been several months in the works, and is the talk of the town. The opening celebration will feature live entertainment, door prizes and drink specials, lasting from 11 a.m. Saturday until 1 a.m. Sunday, the spokesmen said.
East Texas artist Laurel White has painted silhouettes on the nightclub’s interior walls. The mural that runs the circumference of the nightclub features movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe, the Wizard of Oz cast, Indiana Jones, Elvis Presley and Laurel and Hardy to mention a few.
The artistry includes beams of silver flowing from silhouettes of spotlights and film strips with portraits of movie stars, emphasizing the show business theme.
Slingerland, who named the bar after his deceased partner Red Garlow, has transformed the old tin plumbing building into a sleek nightclub. A privacy fence is under construction in the rear of the building, and there will eventually be an outside bar opened. A large parking lot is also under construction.
The nightclub features pool tables and six 44-inch televisions. Luethe and Bob Baugh will tend bar during the day, and Slingerland and Jerry Francis will be on hand at night.
Dallas bartender Steve Tuggle, who worked almost two decades at The Hideaway’s back bar in its heyday and now works at Woody’s during the week, will be tending bar on Saturday nights.
Garlow’s will be open from 11 a.m. until midnight Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays and noon to midnight on Sundays.
Slingerland said he wants Garlow’s to offer an alternative to Friends, currently the lake’s only gay bar, but not to replace it. Garlow’s will not be a show bar like Friends, he said.
The goal is to bring more people out to enjoy entertainment venues on the lake, Slingerland said. There are many weekend and full-time residents who just don’t get out, he said.
"I hope a rut six-foot deep develops from the traffic going back and forth between the two bars," said Slingerland, who along with Francis used to tend bar at Friends, which is less than a mile away.
Friends owner Leo Bartlett and general manager Rick Foster said they wish their old friend Slingerland much luck.
"We hope the bar does well," Foster said. "I think having another bar will bring more business to the lake."
Slingerland said he has also received the support of Lou and Bernie, the owners of Cedar Isle and Nita, the owner of Walker’s Landing. Those owners, who welcome gay patrons, are expected to attend the opening celebration, he said.
Hip straight customers will also be welcome at Garlow’s, as they are at Friends, Slingerland said.
"It’s a bar," Slingerland said. "The owner just happens to be gay." •
David Webb is a former Dallas Voice staff writer who now lives on Cedar Creek Lake. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his Web site at TheRareReporter.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 2, 2010.