Excelsior excised! Park Slope gay bar closing after 15 years • Brooklyn Paper

Excelsior excised! Park Slope gay bar closing after 15 years

Last huzzah: Mark Nayden, right, stands with his longtime partner and new husband Richard Kennedy outside Excelsior, the Park Slope gay bar they have run together for the past 15 years.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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
Letting it all hang out: Excelsior's excellent back patio is only open for a few precious days more.
Mark Nayden

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