In the last few decades Chelsea has seen many iconic gay venues close, including Roxy, Rawhide, Splash and most recently G Lounge. Since then the trend has been for all new bars and nightclubs to open uptown in Hell’s Kitchen. But there is new life coming back to a familiar place in Chelsea.
Get Out! magazine spoke to Michael McGrail and two of his partners, Facundo Rodriguez and Franco DiLuzio, about the grand opening of their new venture in the old G Lounge space on 19th Street, and what is in store for the patrons.
Congratulations on the opening of a brand-new bar. What is it going to be called?
MM: REBAR, which is actually the reinforcing bar that gives strength to concrete. We’re looking to bring back strength to the community through a neighborhood bar experience. Something new in gay NYC, informal, comfortable, relaxed.
FD: REBAR is a place where you can meet for drinks, chat with your friends or meet new people, or maybe even set out on your next adventure.
When are you set to open?
FR: We hope to open in early April 2017.
What is your square footage there?
MM: Thirty-seven hundred, but it seems much larger with the completely redone space. The only thing that remains after the renovation is the address.
Will there be entertainment?
FD: Not right now. We’re bringing the bar experience back to a simpler time, a friendly bar where people can come and chat without the distractions. You can go anywhere and they have shows, sports (or porn) on TV and “other entertainment” that get in the way of personal contact. We want it all to be about people chilling with their friends, flirting and possibly meeting Mr. Right…or Mr. Right Now.
Will you still have the oval bar?
FR: Everything associated to G is gone, including the oval bar. There are new owners, a new staff and an entirely new look and feel. We’ve completely renovated the interior, including the façade. It will be deconstructed in some ways…a bar or tavern kind of feel…comfortable, like it’s been there forever. The design is different with two separate bars offering a better flow with a sexy industrial interior with lots of little “nooks and crannies,” including a sexy red room.
So what is the VIP room going to offer?
MM: There really is not a VIP room per se. As Facundo said, we have a “red room” lounge, but the true VIP experience will be through being invited to participate in our REBAR Reward Program. This is a one-of-a-kind free phone app that gives patrons points for every visit, purchases and more. They can redeem these points for drinks when they hit certain levels of membership.
FD: The app also allows us via smart phones to announce special promotions, rewards for birthdays and other special occasions. This high-tech feature applied at our neighborhood bar is not being done in any other bar.
Will you have different events for holidays?
FR: Right now we’re not planning special events or weekly promotions. Our plan is to be a neighborhood bar by day and then offer something sexier at night. As Mike said, a place to meet for a drink without the distractions. The focus is on the personal interaction, and our staff, and our cocktails are the entertainment.
You seem very excited about it.
FD: We’re all very excited. I’ve been dreaming of opening a bar for over eight years, and it’s finally happening. And how cool that I’ve come back 360 degrees to the place where I began my career in NYC nightlife.
FR: Franco and I tried a few times up in HK, but things never transpired. Then we met with Michael about this opportunity in Chelsea.
MM: The previous lease was up here on 19th Street, and my other partner, Bob Barbero, and I were looking for a new project. It just all came together at the right time. After almost two years of planning and a brutal three-month build out, REBAR is finally here, and we’re definitely very excited to offer something new and different to the neighborhood and the community.
Congratulations on the new venture, and we look forward to celebrating the start of a new era with a return to our roots, as REBAR opens in Chelsea in early April.
225 W. 19th Street
Hours: 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.