The financiers behind NYC’s famed Boxers bar chain are looking to expand, both in location and demographics. Let’s take you inside their newest plan.
Anyone who’s spent any time in New York knows that gay nightlife tracks parallel to the gentrification of surrounding neighborhoods. The Meat Packing District? Ancient history as a gay hangout. The West Village? Beyond Christopher Street, it’s hit or miss. Chelsea? Still gay, just not so much. Hell’s Kitchen is a safer bet to find LGBTQ club-goers, and then you’re looking at Brooklyn as your next destination.
That is, unless you’re Boxers proprietor Bob Fluet and his operations and programming manager George Maestre, who just last week opened a new Boxers on the Upper East Side at 1664 3rd Ave (*Boxers Upper East Side closed in 2019 See our best gay bars article to find other gay bars worth visiting.) and have another planned for Washington Heights by the end of spring this year.
And while there’s no mistaking that Boxers as a chain (there’s another in Philly) has a gay vibe, the goal, according to Maestre, is to make Boxers a bar where anyyone can feel at home.Find LGBTQ-Friendly Resources
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Departing from the watering holes where gay liberation was launched, there’s nothing seedy happening anywhere on the premises. And unlike the cavernous warehouses where circuit parties rage ’till dawn, there’s nothing at a Boxers that couldn’t be seen on a weeknight at a Chippendale’s.
“What’s made Boxers such a success is that it’s very mainstream,” Maestre said earlier today. “You don’t feel you’re in a gay bar. The sports bar dynamic helps for sure. We provide a comfortable welcoming feeling and made the atmosphere all-inclusive when it comes to representing everyone. So you’re gonna see somebody Latino behind the bar, somebody black behind the bar, someone Asian; someone white. We also hire girls as servers for brunch. The fact that we work with all the gay leagues and sponsors major league soccer is part of it all too. Yes, being a gay bar is our brand and our gimmick, but just like Hooter’s. There are hot friendly guys — gay and straight. Mostly it’s a mainstream neighborhood kind of place.”
At Boxers the emphasis is on activities and snack foods rather than on getting sloshed, says the manager. “You come to Boxers to hang out primarily. A big part of our clientele is female, and we have music videos and social media screens where people in the club can interact with each other on the screen in real time. There are arcades and games and a lot of things going on, including rooms available for private parties. It’s a domino effect, where people come more to hang out and have a good time than anything else.”
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Last modified: April 12, 2019