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Flaming Saddles, West Hollywood gay country-western bar, closes

Flaming Saddles West Hollywood

Flaming Saddles, the gay country-western bar in West Hollywood, seen during LA Pride on June 10, 2018. Photo: Q Voice News.

WEST HOLLYWOOD —Flaming Saddles, the West Hollywood gay country western bar, permanently is closed.

Owners Jacqui Squatriglia and Chris Barnes, who also own and operate a Flaming Saddles bar in New York City, went on social media Sunday — The West Hollywood location will not re-open. COVID-19 wrecked financial havoc on the business, and they couldn’t re-negotiate their lease with their landlord, Monte Overstreet, who also owns the building that houses Rage nightclub, among other West Hollywood properties.

The bar opened in January 2015 at the intersection of Santa Monica Boulevard and Larrabee Street.

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Flaming Saddles closes

Squatriglia and Barnes didn’t say if Flaming Saddles would open at a different location, but seemed to leave the door open.

“As we were drawing close to opening Flaming Saddles WeHo, it was revealed to us that we did not have a secure deal,” they said in their Facebook post. “That was certainly a surprise, but we went immediately into re negotiating. If you know Chris and I you know that we do not give up, we fight to the end and always stay positive. That being said, Please know that we have absolutely exhausted every way possible to make a deal for our location.

“With the rules as they stand today there is no way we could of fulfilled our fiscal obligations that were presented to us at this location,” the owners said.

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They ended the post saying, “Flaming Saddles will march on!!!”

Club Cobra – North Hollywood gay Latino bar – will not reopen

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Bar closings

The shuttering of Flaming Saddles follows the closure of Gym SportsBar, another popular gay location, whose owners said last month that they not to close because they were unable to make a deal with their landlord.

In June, Club Cobra, the North Hollywood gay Latino bar, announced they would not re-open because their landlord had sold the property.

Also, Cuties, L.A.’s only queer focused coffee shop, said earlier this month that they are permanently closed due to financial hardship.

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Life in COVID-19

In March, Gov. Gavin Newsom had ordered bars to close in an effort to curb the transmission of the COVID-19 virus in packed places.  They were allowed to re-open June 18 if they followed strict social distancing rules. Newsom then abruptly ordered them closed on June 19 as COVID-19 infections continued to climb.

Bars that serve food and operate as restaurants are allowed to remain open, but only if they serve meals and drinks outside. 

Hamburger Mary’s on Santa Monica Boulevard has taken advantage of that option and offers outdoor dining.

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The Abbey, which has a large outdoor patio, also is open for business.

Businesses also must follow strict protocol for employees, such as wearing masks and protective face shields. Before entering, customers have their temperatures taken. If anyone has a fever, they are not allowed to enter. Customers also must adhere to physical distancing guidelines, such as not socializing with other people and staying at their table.

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About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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