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.
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.