In a bad news–good news development, a popular bar and restaurant in Los Angeles is closing, but a new lesbian bar will occupy its space, giving L.A. its first ongoing lesbian establishment since 2017.
Eszett, located in the Silver Lake neighborhood and specializing in natural wines and unusual cuisine, had its last night in business Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports. Husband-and-wife team Sabrina and Spencer Bezaire had opened Eszett in 2019 and kept it going through the COVID-19 pandemic with takeout orders and outdoor service, but “we just couldn’t make the numbers work when it came down to it,” Spencer Bezaire told the Times.
So Mara Herbkersman, who’s been general manager of Eszett, and colleague Emily Bielagus plan to open a lesbian bar, Ruby Fruit, in the space in mid-February. It will be “L.A.’s first permanent lesbian bar since the Oxwood Inn’s closure in 2017,” although there are pop-up establishments and lesbian party nights around the city, the Times reports. Herbkersman and Bielagus had hosted lesbian nights, called Leszette, at Eszett on occasion.
“We know what we’re stepping into,” Bielagus told the paper. “We are taking over a very beloved space [and] we’re very grateful to [the Bezaires], and we know that they’re big shoes to fill. We’re also very aware of the history of the lesbian bar as a concept, honoring the lineage of the people who’ve come before us.” The name is an homage to Rita Mae Brown’s famed 1973 lesbian novel, Rubyfruit Jungle.
“We want to honor that history and also recognize the ways in which women and nonbinary people and gender-nonconforming and trans people fit into the lesbian umbrella,” Bielagus said. “We’re very conscious of wanting to honor the past and also be very aware of what’s happening now and our role in that journey.”
Herbkersman and Bielagus plan to serve food as well as drinks and host special events, such as DJ nights, tasting nights, and book discussions. They envision the new bar being “like a Cheers, but for lesbians,” Bielagus said.
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