Owners of Tin Room, Drama Room seek to open new gay bar at site of iconic venue that closed in 2009; residents fear noise, traffic, trash

RAISING THE BAR | The new owners of the Hideaway, at 4144 Buena Vista in Uptown, have extensively remodeled it since the iconic gay bar closed in 2009. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

An administrative hearing will be held Friday, Sept. 7, on an application for an alcohol license from Marty’s Hideaway — a new gay bar planned at the site of the iconic

Bill’s Hideaway on Buena Vista Street in Uptown.

A neighborhood group is challenging the license application with a list of complaints including traffic, parking, drunk people on the streets after hours, sexual activity, trash, noise, loud music, drugs and breaking into cars.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spokeswoman Carolyn Beck said the agency investigated the complaints and has opted not to join the protest.

For 25 years, a gay bar operated as Bill’s Hideaway in the same location. After it closed in 2009, Paulette Hershner and her son Lonzie leased the property and have spent the past year and a half renovating it. The Hershners also operate the Tin Room and Drama Room in Oak Lawn.

Between 2006 and the closing of Bill’s Hideaway in 2009, the bar was cited for seven TABC violations. Four of those resulted in written warnings. The other three were dismissed without prejudice.

The warnings were for administrative violations like failure to pay or report gross sales receipts. Those complaints related directly to the previous owner, were resolved and aren’t relevant to the new owners.

Beck said that if there were violations at the Hershners’ other establishments, that would hurt their application, but their record is clean.

Beck said that an investigator went to the neighborhood both during the day and at night. He reported that during the day, the neighborhood was quiet but at night it was noisy with quite a bit of traffic. Three other bars are within a block of the Hideaway.

“It would be difficult to deny a permit to one location when there are others in the area,” Beck said.

Singer Jason Huff said he would like the Hideaway to reopen.

“Those looking forward to its reopening should be at the meeting,” Huff said.

He said he assumed neighbors worried that the bar would be loud and cause vandalism in the area but he said that wasn’t what he remembered from the old bar.

Jerry Nicholson managed Bill’s Hideaway from 1988 through 1996.

“I had not one complaint from neighbors or the police,” he said. “I think the Hideaway will add to the neighborhood.”

He said that while noise from music was no problem before, the front building has been re-stuccoed and insulated during the extensive renovation of the property so he expects less, not more, noise.

A parking lot was added in the backyard of a dental office on Buena Vista Street to bring the club in compliance with city parking regulations.

The hearing for the Hideaway’s liquor license takes place in front of an administrative law judge not connected to TABC.

“Community members get to say why they don’t have a right to a permit,” Beck said.

The judge has up to 60 days to make his decision. Both sides then have 30 days to respond. However, Beck said the business has more rights of appeal than the neighborhood and the Hershners could take their case as high as the state Supreme Court.

“I was stunned it ever got to this point,” Paulette Hershner said. “I never expected it.”

The hearing is set for 10 a.m. on Sept. 7 at 6333 Forest Park Road, Suite 150A in Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2012.