In LEAGUE with equality

As the employee resource group prepares to turn 25, it celebrates equality gained at AT&T and focuses on anti-bullying efforts

Bates-McLemore.Theresa
Theresa Bates-McLemore

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

As Dallas prepares for the arrival of the national Out & Equal Workplace Advocates convention in October, LEAGUE, the LGBT employee resource group at AT&T, is making plans to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

The AT&T group was the original LGBT employee resource group, begun after the first March on Washington in 1987, and is a model that has been recreated since then across corporate America.

LEAGUE held its national convention at the Melrose Hotel in Oak Lawn on Sept. 9, and openly gay Fort Worth City Councilmember Joel Burns spoke at the Saturday night awards program about his “It Gets Better” experience (see story, Page 27). The group is beginning to prepare its own “It Gets Better” materials on behalf of AT&T, and in Burns’ honor, the group made a donation to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Several awards were given to Dallas LEAGUE members during the convention last weekend.

National Executive of the Year went to Gary Fraundorfer, vice president of human resources, who was honored for re-evaluating all company HR policies to make sure AT&T’s policies treat LGBT employees equally.
Fraundorfer recently joined the Resource Center Dallas board of directors.
“Awards from employees mean the most because they’ll hold you the most accountable,” he said.

But Fraundorfer wanted LEAGUE members to know just how committed to equality the company is.

“We mean it when we say we want things to be equivalent for spouses and partners,” he said. “The goal is complete parity.”

Among AT&T’s 11 latest initiatives to ensure parity is the addition of gender reassignment surgery to the company insurance plan for the company’s transgender employees.

John Cramer, LEAGUE’s national public affairs director, was among the recipients of a “LEAGUE Cares about Bullying” award. He said that the company has rallied around the group’s anti-bullying efforts.

LEAGUE President Theresa Bates-McLemore said she’s heard from employees across the company thanking her for the group’s anti-bullying efforts.

“I’ve heard heartfelt stories from straight people who said, ‘We didn’t know how to do this,’” Bates-McLemore said.

Cramer said that bullying is not just a gay issue and the LEAGUE campaign is helping employees across the company and others outside of AT&T as well.

The new chapter of the year award went to Puerto Rico.

“They took the League Cares About Bullying initiative to a new level,” Bates-McLemore said.

That chapter created an “It Gets Better” public service campaign with Telemundo.

LEAGUE has 45 chapters across the country with about 750 members. Nationally, the group provides scholarships to at-risk LGBT youth and contributes to the “It Gets Better” campaign and has awarded about $150,000.

Locally, LEAGUE supports the community in Dallas with Black Tie Dinner tables. Team AT&T will participate in the Lone Star Ride. And earlier this year the group made a $5,000 contribution to Resource Center Dallas to support its communications technology needs.

And the group supports its members.

For LEAGUE member Mark Carden from Atlanta, the group has had a much more personal impact. He was already working at AT&T when he came out.

“LEAGUE made me feel more secure about myself and the workplace,” he said. “It helped me grow personally and professionally.”

Look for Cramer, Bates-McLemore and other Dallas LEAGUE members in the parade and at the festival in the park. They’ll ride in an AT&T eco-friendly vehicle down Cedar Springs and give out T-shirts and beads.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Razzle Dazzle Dallas returns to Cedar Springs

 

Revived event will span 5 days with a variety of new features

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When organizers decided to revive Razzle Dazzle Dallas, they made the event bigger than it had ever been. And Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association said that the five-day event just keeps growing.

For example, after rain forced the postponement last weekend of a sidewalk sale and antique car show scheduled for Cedar Springs, the events were added to the Razzle Dazzle schedule.

Razzle Dazzle begins on Wednesday, June 1, with the Cedar Springs Wine Walk and Dog Walk. Participating merchants will serve free wine to anyone who has purchased a $5 wine glass. The Humane Society will set up pet stations along the street to make the event dog friendly.

Thursday, June 2, is the Jagermeister Oak Lawn Pub Crawl. A party bus will shuttle partygoers to participating nightclubs off of Cedar Springs. Participants can travel from club to club in their own cars or park in one place and ride the party bus.

Four Oak Lawn bars will offer a variety of entertainment, contests, dancers and more. The party runs from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and participating clubs include BJ’s NXS, Zippers, the Brick/Joe’s and Kaliente.

Metro Ball begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 3, and is the weekend’s major AIDS fundraiser.

The party will be held at Station 4 until midnight and includes dancing, raffles, a silent auction and entertainment by Deborah Cox. Tickets are $25 in advance and available at GDMAF.org or at Skivvies or $30 at the door.

The event benefits the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, which provides financial assistance to people with HIV and AIDS for critical needs when resources are exhausted through other local organizations.

Two additional events have been scheduled for VIP ticket holders. The Melrose Hotel will host a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. featuring Pinnacle flavored vodkas.

The original founders of Razzle Dazzle Dallas will be honored at that reception.

The Round-Up Saloon will hold a late-night private party with hors d’ouevres on the upstairs deck for VIP ticket holders.

VIP tickets are $100 and include five days of free reserved parking at ilume, a $100 merchant coupon book for the Wednesday Wine Walk and more.

Each VIP ticket holder will be entered into a drawing to win dinner, a one-night stay at the Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth and tickets to the musical Chicago at Bass Hall.

Whittall said producers of the show contacted CSMA to offer the giveaway as a promotion for the tour coming because one of the songs in the musical is called Razzle Dazzle.

About 50 autos from Classic Chassis Car Club will be parked along Cedar Springs Road on Saturday until 4 p.m. for an antique and classic car show. Many of the street’s merchants will be offering discounts during the day at a sidewalk sale.

The street closes to vehicular traffic at 4 p.m. for the main event that begins at 7 p.m.

Cazwell will appear on the main stage with Cheer Dallas, Billy Halliday, The Bright, Uptown Players, Chaz Marie, the Gary Floyd Trio, Anton Shaw and the drag-based performance group Something Fabulous!!!

A female impersonator stage will be set up on the deck at Woody’s Sports and Video Bar beginning at 10 p.m.

DJ/VJ Mickey Briggs of Dallas and the dance sounds of DJ Tim Pfleuger from OZ in New Orleans will alternate on a dance stage at Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street.

About 40 community groups will have booths with information and activities. A late addition to the Razzle Dazzle line up is a Midway with carnival games, dunking booths, a mechanical bull and an obstacle course.

Admission to the street is free but Whittall said that this is a fundraiser. Beer sales from booths will go toward the donation to charities. Midway sales and collections from participating vendors and organizations will benefit agencies.

A closing party and tea dance will be held at TMC: The Mining Company on Sunday, June 5. Miss and Mr. Razzle Dazzle Dallas will be crowned at the Brick on Sunday, with the contest beginning at 10 p.m.

Whittall said they are hoping to attract 20,000 to 30,000 people for the street party. He said the last time Razzle Dazzle was staged in 2003, an estimated 35,000 people attended.

The Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau has been promoting the week nationally.

Veronica Torres of the DCVB said, “We’re marketing Razzle Dazzle Dallas as a destination event.”

She said that they’ve been promoting weekend stays in Dallas through Facebook and Twitter and on their GLBT Dallas site. The DCVB featured the event at trade shows nationally including at a recent International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association convention.

Whittall said the event has been entirely underwritten so all proceeds will go to the beneficiaries — Youth First Texas, Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Interfaith Network, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Beautification Fund, AIDS Arms, Legacy Counseling/Founders Cottage, Lone Star Ride and Legal Hospice

—  John Wright

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

 

In this week’s episode we talked about continuing changes on the Cedar Springs strip, including the Melrose Hotel’s plans for The Bronx Cafe property; the sale of the ilume building; the remodeling project at JR’s; the apparent snags in the plan for Buli Cafe to become Shakers piano bar; the controversy over Maple & Motor Burgers & Beer; and much more.

—  John Wright

Changes coming on Cedar Springs

BYGONES | The Bronx closed last weekend after 35 years. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Warwick announces plans for Bronx location; JR.’s remodel starts; new restaurants opening soon

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Two restaurants closed on Cedar Springs Road last weekend, but new businesses are opening, and at least one long-time club is being remodeled.

The Bronx, the oldest gay-owned business on Cedar Springs that had operated for 35 years, has been sold to the Melrose Hotel.

Officials with Warwick, the owner of the Melrose Hotel, released their plans for the real estate on Wednesday, April 6.

“The current plans call for a large and pillar-less ballroom which would be complemented by additional meeting and conference space in a nearby building. The construction of a spa and a swimming pool is also under study,” Warwick said.

The property has a 10-story height restriction on the property because it is on the Love Field glide path. While the building occupied by The Bronx is in great shape, the attached building that was last occupied by Spanish Village, is not salvageable.

Both would likely have to be razed to make room for Warwick’s planned improvements.

On Thursday, April 7, Rick Espaillat, a spokesman for Caven Enterprises, reports that work was beginning that day on a month-long project to remodel JR.’s Bar & Grill, which has been located on the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton for 31 years.

The remodeling project will, among other things, give the club a ground-level patio along Cedar Springs Road.

The last time JR’s underwent significant renovations was 1998, when the second floor and balcony were added, Espaillat said. The club will remain open during the project.

The other restaurant that closed last week was Hung*dingers.

Danny Sikora bought the lease from the former owner and will move his restaurant, Thairrific, from its Forest Lane location to Oak Lawn. Despite its current location, hidden in a rundown shopping center in Far North Dallas, that restaurant won the 2011 Readers Voice award for best Asian food.

Sikora said work has already begun on the move.

“We’ve gotten the space about 80 percent cleaned out,” Sikora said.

He said that Hung*dingers installed a new kitchen when they opened less than three years ago. He expects his restaurant to be ready to open on Throckmorton Street in six to eight weeks.

Two other restaurants are under construction in the same building at 4000 Cedar Springs Road.

Scott Jones, owner of Macho Nacho in the original Hunky’s location, said he is waiting for delivery of some furniture and expects to open around April 18.

Coffee Lab, in the former space occupied by Obscurities, is still under construction with no set opening date.

Issues with permits and parking have delayed any changes at another Cedar Springs Road business: Scott Whittall said that they are rethinking plans for Buli, the café which the owner had originally intended to turn into a piano bar by enlarging into the vacant space next door.

Staff writers John Wright and Arnold Wayne Jones contributed to this report.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Thairrific to replace Hung*dingers

Danny Sikora

Thairrific co-owner Danny Sikora announced over the weekend that he’s signed a lease for his North Dallas restaurant in Oak Lawn and plans to move it. Thairriffic, the 2011 Dallas Voice Reader’s Voice Award winner for best Asian food, will open in the space being vacated by Hung*dingers.

Hung*dingers closed on Friday. Owner Royce Mathews said the time was right and a deal was offered that will allow him to return to the world of product design.

Thairrific’s current location is hidden, in a shopping center at 3068 Forest Lane, across the street from the Cinemark theater at Webb Chapel Road. The Forest Lane location will reopen as a new concept later this year.

Sikora said his company, Crucial Pickles LLC, “is developing a new concept, which will feature some staples from the current Thairrific menu plus new offerings, to open later this year in the Thairrific Forest Lane space.”

Chef Kyla Phomsavanh’s menu consists mainly of traditional Thai cuisine using family recipes but will include some items from Laos, Vietnam, Philippines and the U.S.

The restaurant will open with lunch and dinner hours, but Sikora said he plans to eventually expand to late night dining Thursday through Saturday, and weekend brunch. He said they’re planning to deliver. He said he hopes to continue the fun atmosphere that characterized restaurants that have occupied that space in the past.

Thairrific will be at 4000 Cedar Springs Road, Suite E, which faces Throckmorton Street.

Of course, Hung*dinger wasn’t the only restaurant to close on Cedar Springs this weekend. The Bronx Cafe served its final brunch on Sunday.

—  David Taffet