Monday, November 12, 2012
New LGBT bar Eden Lounge to open in Deep Ellum by mid-December
Hint: Every night is ladies' night.
DEEP ELLUM Deep Ellum will be home to a new gay bar on Main Street come mid-December.
The former Santiago's Cantina will reopen as Eden Lounge, the brainchild of owner Lauren Nguyen who is hard at work flipping the kitschy Tex-Mex joint into a chic and sophisticated hot spot. According to Nguyen, Eden Lounge will not only be filling a void in Deep Ellum, but also in the lesbian community.
“We’re trying to create a place for the girls to go and feel comfortable,” she said, “where they can hang out and hold hands without people gawking.”
When The Dallas Morning News first reported that a permit was filed for the building at 2911 Main, the space was essentially a shell. Since July, the outside has been painted a dark shade of gray and a new railing has been installed on the rooftop deck. The inside, though under construction, remains largely hollowed.
On a recent visit, Kristi Holman, Nguyen’s partner of five years, walked Pegasus News through a loose tour of the interior design plan, explaining that Eden Lounge is targeting an older, more mature demographic. High-back booths will line the east wall of the bar, she said, adjacent to several coffee tables and additional seating. A bigger booth section for large parties or private conversations will inhabit the northwestern most corner of the building, flanked by an open space for live bands.
There will also be a pool table and various other bar games, Holman said. Consider it the place you go to have a stiff martini and good conversation.
Eden Lounge will have two bars – one on the first floor opposite the entrance and one on the rooftop deck – backed by an original cocktail menu from renowned mixologist Leann Berry. The deck, which boasts great views of downtown, will be decorated with contemporary wooden benches and high top tables. Nguyen decided to keep one unique piece of décor from Santiago Cantina – the stair rail, made of silhouettes of cowboys and cowgirls.
Though Eden Lounge will not be serving food when it opens, Holman said there will be a stash of local restaurant menus, from which patrons are welcome to order and have delivered. Food trucks will also be stationed in the neighboring parking lot on the weekends.
Being connected in the Deep Ellum community was crucial for Nguyen and Holman. Months before deciding definitively on the spot of Eden Lounge, they consulted business owners in the area about the prospect of an LGBT establishment. Holman said they were received with nothing but kind words and open minds. She noted that no one showed up the City Plan Commission meeting to speak out against the couple.
“It shows how far our city has come with acceptance,” Holman said. “It’s about expanding on [Deep Ellum’s] diversity, not competing.”
Nguyen, 43, is no amateur entrepreneur. She was formerly the co-owner of two Asian fusion restaurants that are no longer open. Eden Lounge is the first endeavor in which Nguyen is the sole owner and financer; she did not use investors. Holman attributes Nguyen’s dedication and self sufficiency to her upbringing in Vietnam. Nguyen is modest of her achievements, acknowledging her all-or-nothing attitude as simply the way it is. (She once painted an entire master bedroom in two hours.)
But for now, Nguyen is wants to establish a classy and reposed environment for her community.
“It feels good,” Nguyen said with a big grin. “I can’t wait to see the end result of what I imagine.”
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