NYC’s ‘Rawhide’ Gay Bar to Close


Chelsea's Rawhide bar, opened in 1979, is set to shutter, according to Vanishing New York:

"The building that houses it on 8th and 21st in Chelsea was sold a couple of years ago and the new landlord has jacked up the rent, nearly doubling it from $15,000 to $27,000 a month. The Rawhide has officially been evicted. Their last day will be March 31."

Mayoral frontrunner and Council Speaker Christine Quinn said this about the Rawhide in a recent New York magazine profile:

“One of the things I loved about Chelsea,” she said, “is that on Eighth Avenue, there is the Rawhide bar—not a luxury product. And for many years there were Latino guys from the neighborhood who had a folding card table every Friday and Saturday night and played dominoes. And they knew every guy who walked into the Rawhide, and every guy that walked in the Rawhide knew them. A leather bar may or may not be the best example, but it is the type of neighborhood experience we want to be able to have, what Jane Jacobs called ‘the eyes on the streets’ all watching out for each other.”

What will Quinn do about it?

Is there room on the street for yet another bank or nail salon?


  1. Chuckles says

    WTF should Quinn do about it? Are you asking for commercial rent control?

    Times change. Neighborhoods change. We’re really not talking about historical preservation here. Let’s all move on.

  2. jpeckjr says

    What will Quinn do about it? I’m sure she will buy the building, abolish the rent completely, and run the property as a charity. Stuff like this happens in a capitalist economy. Perhaps the owners of the bar have or will find another location and re-open.

  3. Brendan says

    Andy asks,”
    Is there room on the street for yet another bank or nail salon?”
    No, but Chelsea really needs another Thai restaurant.

  4. JX says

    Quinn is ever-vigilant to protect the interests of real estate developers.

    It’s also a zoning laws problem, which Quinn is always bending to her big real estate developer donors.

  5. Omar says

    I suppose we have to ask ourselves, what kind of business can support $27K in monthly rent? Not one that will add any kind of culture to the ‘hood.

    Capitalism should be able to survive while renting a corner at $15K a month.

  6. Fensox says

    NYC has to make this bed in order to learn from it. People don’t want another starbucks there but they will get one. Once the whole street is full of failing big chain businesses things will change.

  7. Mike in nyc says

    The Mall-a-facation of NYC will soon be complete. Its getting to be as soulless as LA. Sad.

  8. Nuflux says

    Actually, MIKE IN NYC, as someone who lived in NY almost my entire life and moved to LA a little over three years ago, I can tell you that independently owned, high concept restaurants, bars, clubs and boutiques are flourishing here. Whereas it seems every available retail space in Manhattan is now a Chase, BofA or Whole Foods. You sound like someone who visited LA, went to Santa Monica and the Beverly Center, and then left figuring there was nothing else to see. In other words: someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Here’s a clue from a native NYer: living there doesn’t make you inherently more interesting.

  9. David says

    If you want that diverse independent old New York City vibe, you have to leave NYC. There are plenty of great artistic cities out there and that’s where the culture is now.

  10. says

    this is happening all over, actually.

    formerly-sketch Gaybourhoods become tony real-estate havens, and the villages migrate elsehwhere.


  11. Audi-owner says

    Get use to it b**ches! The current gay generation is not into these “cruisey”,sleazebag drug haven gay bars of yesterday. There has been an explosion of gay bars in Hell’s Kitchen but a majority of them are lounges and the one megaclub XL nightclub. Which incidentally,contrary to what the bitter,chip-on-shoulder queens have suggested,is doing very well right now. A few friends and I had reserved a table at XL with this past saturday,it was a bonkers wall2wall crowd with great vibe and lots of eye candy. They are aiming for a more upscale,trendy look for the place and may add alittle “exclusivity” to it,which I have no problem with,I’ve been going to places like that off and on for a few years,so I know what to expect. If it cuts off some of the “riff raff”,I see nothing wrong with it. The older gay generation (with few exceptions from what I keep hearing/seeing) has refused to accept that the “scene” has changed and that this is 2013 not 1984.And I would call rawhide anything but “historic”,it ain’t the stonewall,which I hope will be with us for a very long time. Moving on….!

  12. Wow says

    I just don’t get the need to “preserve” some random gay bar. Bars and clubs close all the time. The types of people who would gravitate to Rawhide are getting smaller and smaller, so the bar is closing, so what?
    Does this bar deserve to exist simply because it catered to a particular type of gay guy? Really? Are we going to save the last Taco Bell should it run it’s course and go out of business??? And for a mayoral candidate to “weigh in” just makes her seem foolish.

  13. Billy Crytical says

    It’s not that a gay bar is closing. It’s that a likely heterosexual landlord is using his economic clout to push the bar out of that location. The bar likely would continue on if the rent wasn’t doubled. This stuff has happened many times in the past all over. Gay people move into an area, fix it up, crime goes down, then heterosexuals either who bought property there because they saw it was a neighborhood on the upswing or already had property push out the gay businesses in favor of mainstream retail/ restuarants. Heterosexuals then move in and the entire atmosphere becomes hostile to gay people and they move out. The pioneers who made the neighborhood are forgotten.

  14. says

    thank you for understanding the point, Billy.

    “you’re welcome, yuppies, for our decades of cleaning this neighbourhood up so that you felt safe enough to bring your designer-strollers into it”

  15. Karma says

    This happens to neighborhoods of color ALL THE TIME. Harlem and Brooklyn are just two examples of white moving into black neighborhoods, jacking up the rents to force the people out. Gays want to be minorities?…well here it is. Enjoy

  16. aaron says

    Thanks, NUFLUX for that comment. I, too moved out of NYC 3 years ago and am watching as many who lived there are coming out here to make a good living and keep the artistic integrity they had when they were part of the old NYC (pre-2000). As one who lived there for 17 years, I have watched it changing and losing a lot of what made it what it was – gritty, unbiased, inspiring, artistic, cutting edge and, most importantly, owned and operated by NY’ers. Since moving here I’ve seen more and more new businesses pop up that are privately owned and doing well. NYC is an amazing place but it’s no longer the center of the universe as it once was. Things change – move forward and when you look back, be proud of what was.

  17. wtf says

    i’m with ratbastard. i’m sick of all the frigging strollers in chelsea and straight people invading gay happy hours.
    and audiowner, get over yourself.

  18. anon says

    I would not describe Rawhide as “pleasant”, nor “roomy” so maybe this is a chance to at least find space for a table or two.

  19. andrew says

    WTF shows us that heterophobes really do exist. I thought that they were just a figment of the Right Wings imagination.

  20. kodiak says

    I only went there a couple of times, but I was always glad it was there. This is happening with storefronts all across manhattan.

  21. Michael Andrews says

    Rawhide was my favorite bar. It was neighborhood personified. I visited there in January from South Beach. Little did I know it would be my last. I lived in NY 20 years ago and remember the Eagle and the Spike. NY hasn’t been the same since.

  22. Rich says

    2005 was the beginning of the end for Eighth Ave. in Chelsea. That was when you could witness a developer tear down a charming corner apartment building housing a successful restaurant (Eighteenth and Eighth), only to replace it with a soulless glass and steel box emitting a gaunt fluorescent glow from yet another bank. Incidentally, 2005 was also the year Big Cup closed, and Starbucks started its campaign to exist on every third street corner.

    The real insult is that landlords’ doubling of the rent doesn’t bring in anything better than what is forced out, in many cases. Change doesn’t have to be negative, but notice how most people cringe when considering what’s coming next? It’s creative destruction, minus the “creative”.

    And even if something interesting comes along, also notice the shorter life-spans of the newer businesses as they struggle to make ridiculously huge rent increases during a down economy.

    Change hurts when losing local flavor, but adding another retail chain/bank/nail salon/drug store really is sucking the life out of a street that has been a genuine draw for this neighborhood.

    My prediction: real estate office.

  23. Joe De Hoyos says

    I hate the New York of today. It was THE BOMB in the 80’s: Boy Bar, The Tunnel, Pyramid. So generic now AND expensive. No thanks.

  24. DannyEastVillage says

    imagine being the kind of person who defines himself by the car he owns. gross.

  25. Will in MUC says

    First, I applaud Audiowner, that was a very funny post. A perfect parody of what is happening now in Manhattan. I cannot believe he is for real.

    Second, I lived in Manhattan from 1988 to 2011, and I agree that the 80s and EARLY 90s were the best, EV, old Eagle/Spike, but that is all through rose colored glasses. I see the young’uns having plenty of fun today too. Just in other venues.

    Quinn is just the inevitable, natural result of Guiliani and the real estate bubble.

  26. jamal49 says

    It’s sad to see that Rawhide is yet another victim to the impossibly-skyrocketing rents in Manhattan not to mention the changing demographics of Chelsea itself.

    I have some pretty good memories of when Rawhide first opened. It was the era when moving to Chelsea out of the West Village was considered pretty daring. It was a nice, laid-back place just to hang out over the years.

    Chelsea isn’t even gay anymore so I guess it is inevitable that such a place as Rawhide would fall to the rampant, inevitable greed of Manhattan’s real estate industry.

    I mean, who in the hell can succeed as a business paying $27,000/mo. in rent? My guess is that it will become another Duane Reade. God knows there aren’t enough of those in Manhattan.

    Don’t expect Christine Quinn to do a damned thing. She’s doing a pretty good job of whoring herself to the highest campaign donor (those same, greedy real estate companies) in her eternal quest to be the next mayor of NYC. Ms. Quinn is nothing short of repugnant which means she’s the perfect candidate to take over from Mayor Bloomberg.

  27. Nick says

    Thanks, nuflux, for the comment. I’ve lived in LA for 27 years, and I’m still discovering things in its many distinct neighborhoods/enclaves. No doubt it looks like a big anonymous blob to those who spend a week in traffic and see only WeHo/Santa Monica and Hollywood Boulevards. What the closing of the Rawhide (sadly) illustrates is the further homogenization of America, with a Starbucks, Chase Bank and nail salon on every corner. In the gay world, part of this can be blamed on technology: With dating apps, who needs bars? And so community meeting places and serendipitous face-to-face encounters are dying as we become commodities on the shelf of Scruff and Grindr. Yes, it’s all very convenient and cheaper than going to bars, but the price is the loss of soul, geographic personality and a sense of connection to a community.

  28. David says

    27,000 month — that’s not the small cozy diverse place it once was. It will never be that way again. There are amazing places across this great country. The city of greed isn’t the same, won’t be the same, so don’t bother crying about it.

  29. bckm says

    To me, the Rawhide was more than some “random” place. It was there that I decided to come out in 1984. It was there that I made some of the best friends of my life, good people who happened, for the most part, to be gay. People who lived in the neighborhood (I didn’t – I lived in Brooklyn); people who identified with the Rawhide as a place they could go to escape the crowds elsewhere. I was pretty much a regular, although I didn’t wear leather and I didn’t cruise. I made friends there. I moved to LA 25 years ago, and I’m probably moving back to NYC (much love for LA AND NYC here…) So I understand those who say “it’s just another bar”, but really it was much more.

  30. Rick Green North Jersey says

    I am a gay man but I am married with children. Cara I want a divorce. I am sick of you setting the kitchen on fire on dealing with your dry skin. I want a man that can make me a bundt cake twice a month. I am sick of you and the lacquered furniture. I wanted the Ethan Allen. I should of dated the gay guy from Woodlake in Marlton with the Thuderbird. Maybe we can still make it work if I can find him.