Judge continues Hideaway hearing

A state administrative law judge on Friday continued a hearing on nearby residents’ challenge to an alcohol permit for Marty’s Hideaway, a court clerk told Instant Tea on Monday.

The Hershner family is trying to reopen the iconic gay bar on Buena Vista Street, which closed in 2009 after 26 years. The Hershners, who also own the Tin Room and the Drama Room, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

A neighborhood group has challenged the alcohol permit for Marty’s Hideaway due to the additional noise and traffic they say the bar would bring to the area.

The hearing was continued at the request of attorneys, the court clerk said. According to the court, the two sides have until next week to submit additional papers, but that court is now setting new dates from October through January. The court clerk said it’s more likely the case will be heard later rather than sooner.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is not challenging the license. The new operators have a clean record with TABC. The property has no violations that relate to the location. And a study by the agency found that while the neighborhood is quiet during the day, the area is already noisy with traffic and parking problems at night.

—  David Taffet

Residents try to stop new gay bar from opening at site of Bill’s Hideaway

The building that once housed Bill’s Hideaway has been sitting empty since the iconic gay bar closed in 2009.

Eighteen months after they first leased the property, the owners of Marty’s Hideaway face one last hurdle before they can open the gay bar on Buena Vista Street.

After Bill’s Hideaway ended a 26-year run at the location in 2009, Lonzie Hershner announced his family had leased the property and planned to reopen it as Marty’s Hideaway, in honor of his gay brother who died in 2010. The Hershner family owns both the Tin Room and the Drama Room.

But as you can see from the flyer at right (click to enlarge), which was sent to Dallas Voice on Twitter, a group of nearby residents is trying to stop Marty’s Hideaway from opening, and they plan a meeting tonight to organize for an upcoming court hearing.

Reached by telephone today, Hershner said the residents have filed a legal challenge to the bar’s application for a license from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. A hearing is set for Sept. 7, and the Hershners were forced to take down a sign for the bar from the fence outside.

“We’re pretty confident that things will go our way,” Hershner said. “They have to prove we’re doing something that’s going to be dangerous to the community or that we’re going to be doing something illegal. Considering we’re zoned to be a bar, and there was a bar there before … it doesn’t seem like they will be able to do a whole lot to be able to stop us.”

Hershner said his family has invested a lot of money to fix up the building and property, but he declined to say how much. The improvements include construction of a new parking lot.

Hershner said the neighbors’ main concern, at least initially, was that they didn’t want another bar with dancers in the area that’s already home to BJ’s NXS and Zipper’s. Ironically, Hershner said, most of the residents who are fighting the bar are gay.

Although both the Tin Room and the Drama Room have dancers, Hershner said he signed an affidavit saying he won’t put dancers in Marty’s Hideaway in an effort to satisfy the residents.

Instead, he said, the bar will be similar to what it was as Bill’s Hideaway, with live piano and jazz music in the front. The back bar, which is separated from the front bar by a spacious patio, could be used to host drag shows or karaoke.

“We’ve given our word to that community, even once the court date is said and done, we will not bring dancers into that bar,” Hershner said. “We’re going to honor our word.”

If he wins in court on Sept. 7, the bar could receive its TABC license within two to three weeks after that.

“I’m ready to move forward with this,” Hershner said. “This is the last leg to open the doors.”

—  John Wright

Owner sets date for Hideaway reopening

The view of the Hideaway from Dallas Voice offices.

I spoke with Hideaway owner Lonzie Hershner earlier this week to get the latest update on the club’s status. The Hershner family, which also owns the Tin Room and the Drama Room, bought the Hideaway after the bar closed in 2009 after more than 25 years. Lonzie Hershner’s brother, Marty, passed away in 2010.

From Dallas Voice’s offices, we can look to see that construction at the Hideaway — 4144 Buena Vista St. —  has really ramped up over the last couple of weeks, and Hershner confirms that the end of the tunnel is in sight.

“We finally got all the permits and all wheels are turning now,” he said. “We’ll be actually open for business in three weeks.”

This was a pleasant shock to hear. As neighbors to the club, construction seemed to slow down toward the end of 2011, but then picked up in January. With both interior and exterior upgrades, the club is finally taking its shape again after being gutted.

“The building had to be broken down to the frame and we had to start from scratch. The majority of the flooring had to be replaced, support beams, extra touches. This was a lot more work than we thought it was gonna be,” Hershner said.

—  Rich Lopez