Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lighthouse Bar & Grill

Lighthouse Bar & Grill
Lighthouse Bar & Grill

Location: 281 Lighthouse Avenue, Monterrey, California, USA

Opened: Before 1997

Closed: September 15, 2007

It has occurred to me that a certain narrative riff is becoming distressingly familiar, and practically a genre unto itself.

And what is that, you ask?

It's the (ostensibly) Clueless Straight Dude who wanders into a lesbian bar. Completely and totally by accident, mind you. (Oh no, the Visit is NEVER the result of a deliberate initiative on our narrator's part.) We know this for a fact because our Clueless Straight Dude always protests what a naif he is, how he was merely a deluded and wide-eyed babe in the woods--until he stumbled off the street and into one of these establishments...and encountered THOSE women.

Here's an example of such a narrative concerning the Lighthouse Bar:

Interior, Lighthouse Bar & Grill
The Lighthouse Bar and Grill is a mid-sized bar near Cannery Row. I went there one evening because I saw they had Monday Night Football advertised outside. As soon as I stepped in the door, I knew something was unusual...the bartender gave me a funny look, everybody stopped and stared, and I think I even heard a record skip. You know, the rainbow flag should've given it away, but I barely noticed it until I was inside and saw the Heineken rainbow sign.

Yes, it turns out this is a gay bar...not just any gay bar, but a predominately lesbian bar. I wasn't the only guy there, but I'd guess there might have been just one other straight guy (I chose not to ask him). Once inside, what do you do? I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer and a burger, and tried not to make eye contact. The bartender was friendly and took good care of me...I wonder what she was thinking? The burger was good, the fries terrible, and the beer cold and cheap at about $2.50 for a Corona. I did get to see some football and two lesbians making out, so it was a good first California gay bar experience for me. But I won't be going back. Oops, I went back. Cool friends of mine. Still sucks.

The Lighthouse Bar and Grill is on the corner of Lighthouse and Dickman.

Never mind that our poor little innocent--once he recovered from his shock--still managed to enjoy his time playing voyeur. Yeah, whatever.

I suppose it was in the interest of avoiding guys like said voyeur, that many lesbian bars have developed very discrete presentations in their advertising literature. From the Lighthouse's Bar own self-introduction at her old webpage, you'd be hard pressed to guess much about her. That's how evasive she was:

Welcome to Lighthouse Bar & Grill. We are located in the beautiful city of Monterey, California, where all the action is happening (or at least in our bar anyway!) Our hours of operation are: Mondays - Sunday 4:00 P.M. - 2:00 P.M. We offer wonderful daily lunch specials at reasonable prices. Check out our menu for a complete list of our tasty food.

Our main priority is to please our diverse clientele by providing our customers with fabulous entertainment. We are the friendly neighborhood bar & grill you've been looking for! It's a great place to unwind while enjoying an extensive selection of wine, beer and spirits.

What did others say about her? Well, mostly we hear that the place was sorta, well, gay. Like this 2004 review:

Friendly, if a bit dilapidated, gay pub where the locals hang out, with a pool table and Sunday "beer bust."

Or this one, also from 2004:

This casual neighborhood bar caters to the gay and lesbian community and welcomes everyone. Pool tables provide friendly diversions, including a Thursday night coed tournament. The Sunday beer bust and evening bar-be-que is a local favorite. Monday night football brings in a lot of people during the season. Lighthouse has a full bar, good grill fare, and a fun and friendly crowd. It's open daily until 2 A.M.

I haven't found a lot of patron reviews, and none that were (apparently) by women. Here's one, though it's not exactly glowing, from August 2006:

Being the only gay bar in town, I am forced to give it more than one star. That said, this place is a hole. Is as such partially because it is the only gay bar in town (same people over and over) and partially because the place is awkwardly small with low ceilings which make anyone feel like they are doing illegal actions. Unfortunately, it's the only place to go to be around the gays. I've actually stopped going because it is just not worth it anymore.

Then there's this review, which came out shortly before she closed her doors for good:

Draped in Christmas lights and featuring the requisite pool table, Monterrey's only queer bar attracts the boys, the girls, and everyone in between to its cozy, friendly quarters. Sunday beer bashes at 2 p.m.

By the time she shut down in 2007, it was confirmed that the Lighthouse Bar and Grill was the last gay (or lesbian) bar in Monterrey:

The city of Monterey’s last gay bar has closed.

Patrons packed the Lighthouse Bar and Grill Saturday, September 15 for a bittersweet goodbye. The bar had been open for more than 10 years.

Rod Montre, who visited the bar as a patron and as a community educator who tested people for HIV, wrote in an e-mail, "This was a neighborhood gay bar where the GLBT community felt safe ... we would meet people that are GLBT-identified from everywhere on the earth at the Lighthouse."

Greg Moreno, one of the bar’s owners, told the Monterey County Herald that business had been rough. The Bay Area Reporter was unable to reach Moreno or the other owner.

Montre said that up to 300 people came to the bar on weekends, and from 25 to 100 people were there on weeknights.

There were once six gay bars in the area, he said. Now, the only gay-identified bar around is Franco’s Norma Jean’s in Castroville.

As for what Monterey’s LGBT community will do now, Montre said, "The Lighthouse bar was a business, but we are a gay and lesbian community of friends, so there will always be a place."

So the only testimony I have that this was ever a lesbian bar--or even a "predominately" lesbian bar--is from the Clueless Straight Dude. This is not making me happy. But it does show how hard it can be to document the historical existence of womyn's space....

Photo: Lighthouse Bar

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.