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Iconic Midtown gay bar closing due to pandemic, owner hopes to reopen in 2021

By Kiersten Willis, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

#atlanta-ga (CNT) City News And Talk

Atlanta Eagle owner Richard Ramey announced the news on Instagram and Facebook Live Thursday evening.

After a 33-year stint on Ponce de Leon Avenue, iconic gay bar Atlanta Eagle is closing its doors.

Owner Richard Ramey simultaneously took to Instagram and Facebook Live to announce the news.

“As each of you know, I run my business with my heart and I care for each and every one of you,” he said. “I care for my customers and our community. We have such and incredible community. With all that said, I’ve made a decision that November the 14th — that’s going to be a Saturday night — is going to be our last night at the Atlanta Eagle at 306 Ponce De Leon.”

Ramey said this was a temporary closure and the bar would not permanently shutter operations. He vowed that the spot would “come back bigger, better, stronger than ever.”

After closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, the bar reopened in June, but Ramey said that since the bar’s dancefloor hadn’t been open since March “it’s been a challenge for me.”

While the bar has suffered financially and sales had been down 80% amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Ramey applauded patrons for staying at home amid the crisis. Ramey is eyeing a June 2021 reopening as long as it is safe enough for patrons to visit without wearing a mask or having to be outdoors. A new location has yet to be determined.

During the final two weekends of Atlanta Eagle’s run on Ponce, which will be the first couple of weekends in November, Ramey plans on hosting VIP farewell parties “to say goodbye to the incredible 306.”

“I’m so looking forward to giving our community a new home, a new, better home, a home that we’re proud of and a home that we can gather again,” he said. “What makes the Atlanta Eagle are the customers, the staff, the unity. We can meet in a parking lot and still be the Atlanta Eagle family… It’s going to be a great, great thing that’s going to happen and so I’m really looking forward to that.”

The Atlanta Eagle has survived on the street for more than three decades, continuing to thrive following the 2009 police raid in which police claimed to have previously seen sexual activity occurring. Eight patrons were arrested for code violations, but no one was arrested on charges of sexual activity when the raid happened. After a federal lawsuit alleging civil rights violations at the hands of law enforcement was filed, the City of Atlanta ended up paying more than $1 million to settle the dispute in 2013. Atlanta police were also required to institute reforms.

Following news of the Atlanta Eagle’s closure, hundreds of comments poured in on Facebook.

“Just realized I’ve been going to the Eagle for almost all of those 33 years. Wow. Gonna miss that space, but boy do I have wonderful memories. I’m excited about Eagle’s new incarnation,” one patron said.

Another remarked, “Your community loves you and supports you! You’ve done so much good for our community!”