Twenty years ago, Washington Heights was one of New York City’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Over the last decade, however, the narrow stretch of Upper Manhattan that runs from 155th Street to Fort Tryon Park, has been undergoing a renaissance. Its reputation is on the upswing as actors, musicians, a sizable community of lesbians and gays, and middle-class families looking for more space have been lured to the area by it’s more affordable housing prices. Yet even with its newfound diversity, the one classic totem of urban upward mobility that has remained missing is a gay bar; until now. Boxers, the gay owned and operated chain of bars with three locations in New York (in Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, and its newest bar on the Upper East Side) and one in Philadelphia, has expanded into Washington Heights.
“Washington Heights deserves it own neighborhood gay bar,” says Bob Fluet, who owns Boxers along with Rob Hynds. “We have made it our mission to go into neighborhoods that have lots of gay people but no gay bar. We are bringing the contemporary gay bar to them,” he proclaims.
Billed as America’s Gay Sports Bar, Boxers mixes elements traditionally found in mainstream sports bars like pool tables, beer on tap, brick oven pizza, 2-for-1 happy hours and flat screen TVs broadcasting sports games with queer touches like DJs, large outside spaces (a terrace in Chelsea and an open rooftop in Hells Kitchen), Britney Spears music videos and shirtless male jock bartenders in boxers.
They do it by being all-inclusive. Boxers welcomes gays, lesbians, transgender, and every letter of the LGBT+ allies into its bars. Straight men and women also feel welcome due to its laid back, contemporary feel.
“We believe that in order to achieve full equality, the gay community needs to open its arms and show its love to our allies,” says Hynds.
It’s one of the reasons Boxers teamed with Smirnoff Vodka and the Human Rights Campaign on the “Love Wins” campaign. For every bottle of its limited edition No. 21 Vodka sold at Boxers, Smirnoff has pledged to donate $1 to LGBTQ causes.
For more information, visit boxersnyc.com. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Photos courtesy of Wilson Models.