A small bit of Forest Hills history is in the making as the neighborhood’s first gay bar in decades plans to open its doors next weekend.
Pride Restaurant Lounge and Bar, located at 70-15 Austin St. in Forest Hills, is primed to welcome patrons for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 26, thus making it Forest Hills’ first chic restaurant and nightspot geared toward the LGBT community.
The venue, which is owned by 40-year-old Greek immigrant Georgios Aspiotis, will have loud, trendy music and an upscale nightclub environment. Corfu Grill, the successful next-door Greek restaurant that Aspiotis also owns, will provide Pride with food items as well.
“There’s nothing in the neighborhood that’s like it,” Aspiotis said. “It’s going to offer a quality environment, nice music and good food from next door.”
The aptly named niche bar will have the advantage of tapping a market that has yet to be touched by any possible competing venue in the area. Making history while making money is something that Aspiotis is not only used to, but thoroughly enjoys.
“I like to make a difference,” he said. “I had the first Greek restaurant in the neighborhood and then a bunch of Greek places opened up around here afterwards. I’m sure other bars will start coming too.”
Interestingly enough, it was a failed mayoral campaign among other things that pushed Aspiotis, who moved to the United States in February 1999, to pursue opening a bar geared towards the gay community.
“Homosexuality is a difficult subject,” he said. “But the state legalizing gay marriage and Christine Quinn being a lesbian and running for mayor were inspiring.”
While Pride, which is opening in the space where a tapas bar named Common Space closed down earlier this year, will open on Oct. 26, Aspiotis views that date as a “soft opening.” The following few days will allow employees, patrons and the owner alike to get a feel for the new establishment, with a possible grand opening coming shortly thereafter.
“I want to open those doors the first few nights so everyone can just get used to things,” he said. “My thought is to have a grand opening a few days later. I want to open when we’re ready and 100-percent comfortable.”
Though Forest Hills already has a number of drinking establishments, there were never any reservations in regards to Pride from Community Board 6, according to District Manager Frank Gulluscio.
“There was no opposition to it,” Gulluscio said. “Not a word, absolutely nothing.”
Opening a new business is always a risky endeavor, but Aspiotis sees the sky as the limit for Pride.
“When you open a business, you open with the mindset that you’re going to do well,” he said. “If you put the right time and effort in, you can make it in America.”