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Excelsior excised! Park Slope gay bar closing after 15 years

The Brooklyn Paper
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The popular Park Slope gay bar Excelsior is closing on Sunday, but its owners say this final call won’t be their last.

The proprietors are busy browsing real estate listings and are confident they’ll find another place to set up shop before long, a feeling they say the pub’s name helps them maintain.

“ ‘Excelsior’ means ever onward and upward, and that’s what we plan on doing,” said Mark Nayden, one of the bar’s co-founders. “There’s been a black cloud hanging over everything, but I don’t want the negativity anymore. We’re going to find a better space and we’re going to continue to serve the community.”

Nayden found out in June that the bar was going to be losing its home. He and his husband have managed Excelsior for 15 years, having moved into the building shortly after their landlord bought it. They opened with a 15-year lease, and were in the process of renegotiating it earlier this summer when their landlord said he intended to sell.

Nayden said the landlord gave them the choice to purchase the property for $2.2 million, but on short notice raising that amount was out of the question.

The landlord declined to comment, saying that the sale is still pending.

Park Slope is now crammed with bars and restaurants, many of them gay-friendly, but Nayden said when he first opened the saloon, establishments like it were few and far between.

“Fifteen years ago, there wasn’t much else,” he said. “We’ve really been an anchor in the community, and we’re proud of that.”

The bar has been more of a neighborhood watering hole than a pick-up spot, according to one regular.

“This sounds cliche, but we compare it a lot to ‘Cheers,’ ” Chris Christman said. “It’s a neighborhood bar that happens to be a gay bar.”

Christman said he was on hand for Excelsior’s long-ago opening day and plans to grab a stool at the next one.

The closing could not have come at a more hectic time for the pair of barkeeps.

On Monday employees and Excelsior regulars were busy preparing for Nayden’s wedding to his business partner and boyfriend of 24 years Richard Kennedy.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz
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Reader Feedback

James from Bensonhurst says:
The residents of Park Slope should be happy it's closing!
July 30, 2014, 8:32 am
ty from pps says:
Why is that, James? Hmmm? Wish to expand on your thoughts? I'm sure we'd all like to know what you mean.
July 30, 2014, 9:16 am
abe from cobble hill says:
can't believe it lasted 15 years - went a couple times when I was single - one word came to mind BORING!!!!!
July 30, 2014, 10:14 am
KP from Carroll Gardens says:
Yes James, elaborate? Most residents of Park Slope are open-minded and welcoming. I would think most residents of Park Slope, with its strong LGBT community, are sad that Excelsior is closing. The neighborhood is sadly losing some of its vibrancy.
July 30, 2014, 10:41 am
Ed from PS says:
He's from Bensonhurst. Pretty obvious what he means. B-hurst is known for ignorant homophobes and racists. This should come as no surprise to anyone.
July 30, 2014, 11:07 am
bkmanhatposeur from nubrucklyn says:
u sure he aint diehipster?
July 30, 2014, 11:13 am
Lisa from slope says:
They are signing elsewhere in the neighborhood. Rumor is they've looked at the space where Beauty Bar is now. No shock that place is going under.
July 30, 2014, 11:20 am
Joe Shmo from Park Slope says:
I grew up on 7th Street and watched the neighborhood change right before my eyes, the bars, the restaurants, the demographic...
I remember when this place opened up I was in my mid teens and I didnt care much for it and I wasn't against it. Actually I don't care for it closing either as it doesnt affect my life. The patrons at the bar never affected my life worst is the tran guy that stands in front of chase on 9th Street and that's been hitting on me for 12 years.
This place leaves something else will be placed there... personally I hope it's kid friendly.
July 30, 2014, 1:36 pm
Peter from Park Slope says:
Because that's just what Park Slope needs, Joe, is another kid friendly establishment. The hundreds it has are certainly not enough.

And the trans person in front of Chase... That hurt you how?
July 30, 2014, 1:54 pm
John Wasserman from Prospect Heights says:
Pardon me, but I've been coming here for years, and have never known it to be a "gay" bar. I just though, perhaps, that the patrons were slightly over friendly.
I hate to interrupt like this.
July 30, 2014, 3:05 pm
ty from pps says:
gay? I'm reasonably cheerful myself!
July 30, 2014, 4:59 pm
Ted from Park Slope says:
Boring place. It's closing because GOD HATES BARS!
July 31, 2014, 4:25 pm

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