Duff closes its doors
HAPPIER TIMES: Last year, Cary Grant said there was no
need to worry about The Duff. Though poised for renos
and a tapas menu, he promised it would stay gay. Now he
can't believe it's closed. (Jacques Gaudet photo)
Management says closure temporary; patrons skeptical
Hainsworth / Xtra West / Thursday, August 30, 2007
of Vancouver's oldest remaining gay bars has closed its doors,
this time possibly for good.
management denies The Duff is now closed permanently, community
fundraising groups received notices saying the bar would be
closed until further notice effective Aug 20.
might call it death by a thousand cuts, says Peter Hanson, who
has worked with The House of Just Cuz and The Knights of Malta
doing fundraising in and around the bar for the past several
bar's closure, he predicts, is going to have a severe impact
on fundraising work for charities throughout the gay community.
It has left a lot of fundraising groups scrambling, he says.
dropped the axe. They lopped the head off the queen," Hanson
says. "It took a great chunk of a lot of people's hearts
not just the fundraising loss that will hurt the community,
he continues, it's the slap in the face to the customers.
my home bar," he says. "I feel like I've been stabbed
in the back."
bar manager Kevin Van Buren insists The Duff is not permanently
closed. Changes to the bar are still in the planning stages,
can't give a timeline for how long those changes may take.
being lied to," he tells Xtra West before cutting the interview
Duff patron Roger Lee doesn't buy it.
says the management's lack of communication with long-standing
staff and customers is nothing short of "despicable."
says he doesn't know when or if The Duff will re-open, despite
Van Buren's promises that the closure is only temporary. "We
don't know whether it's six months or five years," he says.
not being forward with us," he charges. "They've been
dragging us along."
too is skeptical about Van Buren's promises. "If they want
to close it, close it," he says. "They're just making
the bar smaller and smaller. It's an affront to the community."
purchasing the building in 2005, the new management has progressively
changed the face of both the hotel and its resident gay pub.
changes began slowly.
to go was the karaoke bar, which is now an upscale wine and
beer store. Then much of the gay entertainment was cut.
work on the hotel began.
the hotel's name changed from the old Dufferin, with its classic
neon sign down the side of the building, to the Moda, more in
keeping with its chic new look.
then the walls began closing in on the bar patrons. Literally.
to the bar narrowed its space considerably, as its entrance
was moved from Seymour St around the corner to Smithe St and
its intervening floor space was sealed off. That left the bar
about one-third the size of its original gay space.
the hotel's name changed last December, then-bar manager Cary
Grant assured Xtra West that there was no need to worry. Though
the bar would see some significant renovations and shift to
a more upscale tapas menu, it would remain queer, he promised.
he says, he can't believe it's closed.
truly disappointed," he says.
Duff's closure is a blow to Vancouver's gay culture and community,
Duff has been a cornerstone of the community, not only as a
queer meeting place but also a fundraising venue, Grant says.
going to create a vacuum for the gay community."
says he doesn't understand why the new management closed the
who has left The Duff several times over the last few years
only to return a few months later, says he gave notice again
last week, just three days before the bar closed.
didn't stop many regulars from calling him in distress when
they encountered the closed doors. "There was a zillion
messages on my machine," Grant says.
regular patrons were having doubts about the space's ability
to survive its upscale swing long before last week's closure.
Duff under its new ownership has lost its edge, Michael Buehler
told Xtra West lastyear.
used to go there before because it was edgy," he said.
"It's becoming more and more mainstream. There's nothing
going on anymore, the feel is gone."
wonders where The Duff regulars will go if the old gay space
there going to be a bar in the Downtown Eastside that's going
to take up the slack? Probably not," he predicts.
the Moda's outset, one hospitality consultant working on the
building's renovationssaid the bar would not restrict itself
to its old gay clientele under the new management.
delighted to be catering to the gay market," Gerry Barteluk
of Barteluk Hospitality told Xtra West in February 2006. But
"we're not going to restrict ourselves to one market,"