The Dalloway Offers More Than Just a Room of Their Own
Celesbians Kim Stolz and Amanda Leigh Dunn have made a big splash in the New York bar scene, with the success of their new SoHo bar/restaurant The Dalloway. Featuring specialty cocktails, modern furnishings, a cozy fireplace and a top-notch menu by Chef Vanessa Miller, the venue has become a hot spot for everyone from upscale lesbians to finicky foodies. It's a far cry from the mass of lesbian bars offering sticky floors and $2 PBRs.
"I think The Dalloway attracts a sophisticated crowd that is not comfortable in lesbian bars that exist now," said Stolz, a former contestant on "America's Next Top Model." "We worked hard to make the décor cozy but edgy, inspired by our favorite restaurants and bars in New York. It has a very nice edge to it, and is definitely not dingy."
But this change didn't come overnight. Way back in the 1920s, Eve's Hangout, at 129 MacDougal Street near Washington Square, was a place for the ladies only. Jewish Polish émigré and owner Eve Kotchever, aka Eve Addams, put a sign at the door reading, "Men are Admitted But Not Welcome."
During the Stonewall Era, gay men and lesbians mostly coexisted in harmony, although they self-segregated to their own bars. In the late '80s, the advent of the AIDS crisis brought lesbians to the sides of their falling brothers, and a sort of détente was reached.
From the '90s on, gay men and lesbians mixed to a large degree, patronizing each other's bars and parties. But these venues mostly continued to be hole-in-the-wall dive bars, with cheap drinks and the cliché pool tables.
But great gains in LGBT rights have also come with a higher profile. More LGBTs from all walks of life are coming out, and many want more out of a night out than a killer hangover from Happy Hour margaritas. This can in part be credited for the success of bar and restaurant The Dalloway.
More than a Happy Hour
Stolz told EDGE that she had six weeks off between jobs (she works on Wall Street) when she combined forces with Dunn, a former cast member on "The Real L Word," to open a lesbian bar.
"Some people take vacations, a lot of people go away, but I met with Amanda to open this bar," said Stolz. "I’ve been very conservative with my money, and saved a lot of it to contribute to something like this."
The two originally envisioned a split where Stolz would handle the business and marketing aspects as she planned for her August wedding. Dunn would take care of the social media and public relations aspects. What ended up happening was a far cry from this stolid plan, and found both women happily juggling many obligations.
"We originally wanted simple pub food here, but Chef Vanessa Miller wanted to do a tasting for us, something more engaging and appropriate for a more sophisticated crowd," said Stolz. "We were blown away by the tasting, and so the restaurant side took off."
Stolz said she and Dunn worked with a mixologist to create specialty cocktails like the Daisy, with gin and green chartreuse, and the Adeline, with jalapeno tequila and cane sugar. Meanwhile, Miller served up not only toothsome appetizers like warm duck confit salad and persimmon carpaccio, but also entrees like glazed short ribs, wild mushroom risotto and lobster tagliatelle.
"Small plates were a great concept," said Stolz. "I love the cocktail menu; the food is incredible. I also love the short ribs, the Brussels sprouts, and the brunch options like kale salad and egg-in-a-hole. The late-night menu is great, too, with onion rings and sliders -- good stuff all around."
Now, The Dalloway draws partiers to the downstairs lounge for the Thursday night "Girls Party," Tuesday Singles Night, Wednesday "League of Your Own" Game Nights, and assorted events like an upcoming literary book club, a recent saucy Superbowl party and a Valentine’s Day Lesbian Prom.
Upstairs, guests of all stripes tuck into high-end comfort food, including a noteworthy Sunday brunch menu. Stolz said that it’s a great place for a lesbian to take her parents while they’re in town. Judging by the success of the business, this new hotspot has filled a niche.
"I love the gay scene in New York, but feel that it can be a little narrow," said Stolz. "There are a lot of dive bars, so us being able to offer an extensive cocktail list to women lounging by the fireplace is not present in the scene we had before."
Stolz also said she loves the diversity, noting that the bar attracts women across the entire spectrum in age, style, femininity and income. Showing up on her doorstep are beautiful models, and people who have never stepped inside a nice restaurant -- everyone across the board.
"There was a void, and I think The Dalloway does fill it for many people," said Stolz. "I can’t tell you how many people tell me thank you, they can finally feel comfortable at a lesbian bar, with a serious date or even with their parents. You can do it all at The Dalloway."
The Dalloway is located at 525 Broome St. near Thompson. For more info, call 212-966-9620 or visit www.thedallowaynyc.com.