Ever upward, Excelsior will rise again.
Beloved Park Slope gay bar Excelsior Lounge has found a new home just two and a half months after vacating the storefront it had occupied for 15 years. The new location is nine blocks down Fifth Avenue from the old one, and boasts two floors and a back patio. The extra legroom is just what the bar needed, according to its owners.
“I have a feeling this space is what we needed to grow into,” said Mark Nayden, who has run the watering hole with his now-husband Richard Kennedy for more than 15 years. “In a way, everything that happened has been a blessing in disguise.”
Nayden inked papers this week to operate out of the new space at 563 Fifth Ave. between 15th and 16th streets. The space, a former dry cleaner, needs some work, but Nayden said they hope to have the booze flowing again in about three months.
Dry cleaning operations often contaminate soil with the toxic solvent perchloroethylene, but Nayden said remediation is not a concern because the business was just a drop-off point that shipped clothes out to an industrial cleaner. The building does not appear in a state registry of polluted sites.
Excelsior was forced to leave its longtime location on Fifth Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets when the landlord put the building on the market for $2.2 million, a price Nayden and Kennedy couldn’t match, they said. The bar closed on Aug. 3, just days after Nayden and Kennedy tied the knot.
The loss of their longtime home base was a blow, but Nayden said closing up shop for good was never an option.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and now it’s time to get dirty,” he said.
The extra room will allow the saloon to host performances, Nayden said.