New Womens Bar Opening in Gayborhood?

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Last July, we chatted with former Sisters general manager Denise Cohen once we got wind that she was launching an IndiGoGo campaign to help fund the opening of a new women’s bar in the gayborhood after the city’s only lesbian bar, Sisters, closed in August of 2013.

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Hokkaido is set to become Toasted Walnut

Now, more than a year later, it looks like Cohen’s idea has officially come to fruition, as Toasted Walnut is set to open this October at 1316 Walnut Street, at what used to be Hokkaido, a Japanese restaurant.

“The loss of Sisters was heartbreaking for many, but we are not re-creating Sisters – we are creating a new venue, a new energy, a different way of serving food, a different way of presenting entertainment, and a different way for the community to get Toasted!,” says Cohen.

In an article on PhillyVoice.com, Cohen mentioned that while the entertainment will be geared toward women, Toasted Walnut will not be an exclusively lesbian bar, and their programming will be a range of events.

“The L will be put back into our community, but we can’t over look the GBTQ and our straight allies,” says Cohen. “We must keep in mind that the days of women only going to women’s bars and men only going to men’s bars and no one ever straight would dare to enter a gay bar without fear are thankfully GONE! We as a community want equality and in that, we play nice with everyone!”

As far as the name, Cohen exhausted hundreds of possibilities before deciding on Toasted Walnut. “I would run potential names by my fiance Alexandra, and if her face would squish up, I knew it wasn’t something that others would respond to,” she said. “While standing in the space several months back, I realized I wanted to bring the name of the location (Walnut Street) into the mix, then the thought of what I do in a bar – I get a little toasty. From there, it started to flow with what I want to do with food/in-house catering events. Some people may not get it or like it, but absolutely the overall response has been positive.”

The building itself features two floors with three full-service bars. “The space is contemporary,” says Cohen, “and there will be several elements of the previous design that will stay in place, but there will be modifications, and I’ll be relying on my instincts for the overall additional décor design.”

Toasted Walnut will also have a food menu that’s being billed as “upscale, shareable bar food.” There are no plans for lunch service at this time, but Cohen would like to eventually offer a weekend brunch. Speaking of food, she is looking to hire an experienced chef, and if you fit the criteria, you can apply here.

 

2 Comments

  1. Nikki Lopez says:

    Eh…I’m not really excited about this announcement and have mixed feelings. The narrative of “playing nice with everyone” is the exact reason why women only spaces get phased out- because women only spaces are the ones that get forced to compromise under the guise of “we want to play with everyone”. Folks loved Sisters because it was a womyn centered/dyke space- yes there are variations to how folks identify as women but the integrity and principle behind it was that it was a queer women’s bar. This whole notion of not looking over other community members seems a bit of a cop out. I think that if its branding isn’t truly a queer women’s a bar than it shouldn’t be called the “new women’s bar” and just be called a new queer bar, or just a bar managed by a lesbian that’s it because what’s going to happen like every other bar in the neighbor hood is that it’s going to be occupied by gay men and “straight allies” and once again queer women will be phased out. There’s a mix of reasons why queer women bars close out (fuck the patriarchy)- and that also includes the bars themselves needing to keep up with the times– i.e don’t tell your djs to only play one type of music as to not attract “certain crowds” which happened ALOT at Sisters. I think as a community we have to really take an honest look to create new effective change. One of the reasons why I love Stimulus is that yes it embraces and welcomes everyone, but it’s branding has always been true to being a queer women identified party- from the folks who run the party, to the djs who are visible and on deck—and the variety of music played and patrons. I’m curious to see how this new space will be and hope only the best for queer philadelphia that has always had a special place in my heart.

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  2. Mar says:

    I’m so excited! However, I wish they would focus more on the LGBT ladies. Although it’s nice to be inclusive, there are TONS of gay establishments that are brimming with straight ladies and gay men. Where is the space for the queer ladies? Either way, I’m sure it will be a great establishment! I cannot wait to go and see what it is like!

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