307 Going Down?

Naw, the notorious gay cabaret club is just on the move

Mike Elrod and a partner have owned the 307 lounge since 1995. Elrod says that along with the purchase of the historic building -- for years it was a downtown drugstore -- they have also snagged an empty lot adjacent that will guarantee ample parking. And the 307 on Central has correct zoning for after-hours.

Plans also include a food and beverage operation that will offer what Elrod describes at this point as "Grub."

"We want to fill a lot of niches when it comes to food and beverage downtown," says Elrod. "And as you know, the 307 and the Crowbar have quite a bit of crossover. I think that having all those gay bars together on that part of Central will have a second center of gravity for the gay community downtown. And of course there is always after-hours appeal. I think it would be great to have a gay-friendly [place], or partygoer-friendly, as much as anything, for people from the Crowbar, the 307 and the Amsterdam to have some after-hours breakfast before they go home on Friday and Saturday nights."

307 on Central is set to open in April to coincide with the Gay Pride weekend.

"We have the Gay Pride parade and festival at Deck Park April 14th and 15th, I think," Elrod says. "And you get 5,000 homo-Americans downtown, it would be a good time to have a grand opening."

Indeed.

For years the old 307 has been blamed for bringing a male prostitution and druggy element to the neighborhood. So the 307 has had to be straight up with the city and the liquor board on all accounts. The 307 lounge shows a record of few liquor violations.

"We are pretty straight arrows about all our things," says Elrod, "and we take our responsibilities seriously. We want to be held accountable for the type of operation we are."

The old 307 building is rumored to be the impending home of the much-storied gay bar Cruisin' on Central.

The old building sports a 47-foot-long Ettore "Ted" De Grazia mural along one interior wall. The mural, created in 1950, is more of an eyesore than anything, its relevance having more to do with the romantic notion of a struggling artist drunkenly dabbling away in exchange for a bar tab.

De Grazia was known to say, "I always assess the value of my work in shots of whiskey."

". . . we left the place in good order," Elrod says. "Of course, the De Grazia is in excellent shape."

Black says nobody should lament the closing of the old 307.

"It's a hurrah, actually," he says. "The new location will be bigger and better."

Is Elrod going to miss the old location?

"To tell you the truth, I was really not nostalgic about leaving," he says. "There have been so many problems. The old location had terrific problems with water, heat and electrical. It had no heat. So it will be nice to start from scratch in this building and put together something that is both fun and stylish."

Elrod promises more of the same, only better. A lounge, he says, that will be intimate and welcoming, and also fun and funky, "like the old place." And, of course, the drag shows.

Besides, the 307 can never once be accused of taking itself too seriously. That would be gauche.

Contact Brian Smith at his online address: brian.smith@newtimes.com

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