After enduring months of extensive renovations, and no small volley of rumors and speculation, Beaux, the stylish Castro gay nightclub, has opened.
As several other gay bars have closed and morphed into straight venues, it is with pleasure - and perhaps a sense of relief - that the former site of Trigger and The Detour at 2344 Market Street has retained its gay identity.
After a first weekend of soft openings, the club opened to the general public on October 10. Marketing Director Joshua J. Cook called the design "an organized chaos of blacks and grey and dark navy, polished and sophisticated design."
Beaux is the newest joint venture from owners Tim Eicher and partner Jeff Eubanks. Along with partners Rob Giljum and Rob Cotterman, the group has brought new life into the Castro district in the past four years with venues such as Qbar, The Edge and Midnight Sun. Some credit these entrepreneurs for saving gay nightlife in the Castro district by renovating and keeping such venues alive.
Beaux will be the first venue that the group has created from the ground up. The old décor of Trigger was basically gutted to make way for a space that offers a contrasting sense of intimacy and openness.
Designer Lauren Geremia, (Bloodhound, Churchill) took inspiration from the new club's name and created a sophisticated yet approachable room that "evokes feelings of romanticism with a heavy touch of timeless masculinity." All-new dark hardwood floors handmade from oak, walnut and brass give the venue a solidity, while the high ceilings and angled frames above the bar offer an open feel.
With three bars, there's little chance patrons should wait too long for drinks. The main bar has been reduced in size from the old Trigger U-shaped bar. There's a side "boomerang" bar near the DJ booth underneath the mezzanine, and a third smaller bar upstairs. "All three fully stocked," Cook added.
Patrons can hang out by the wooden wall structure, dance by the DJ booth, or sit at one of the oversized comfy leather chairs, sofas and ottomans on the mezzanine. You can also find ample seating up front, where the one-way windows offer a scenic view of the Castro streets outside. Doorways and corners are open and wheelchair-accessible, and the upstairs mezzanine can be reached by stairs or an elevator.
However, with the level of upscale design, there will not be a strict dress code. The days of restrictive door policies from the Trigger days are over.
"People have been asking about that, and I've been told we should have a dress code," said Joshua. "The thing is, I'm from the Bay Area, and I know that all different styles mean nothing about what a person is like. We don't mind if you spent the day at Dolores Park in flip-flops and then stop by. It's San Francisco. We're casual. Though the club is sophisticated, it should be approachable. Just come with a friendly attitude."
This is not to say that patrons can't go upscale on their own, with mezzanine bottle service, an element Joshua said will soon be included. But don't expect snobbery.
"Though it's fun to have a VIP space when it's needed, I don't want anyone to feel like they can't enjoy a portion of the club, including being straight-friendly," said Joshua. "There will be a time when we expand our services, and I think everyone will be impressed by our wine list." He called the growing list affordable, but inclusive of upscale champagnes by the bottle.
Signature craft cocktails created by the President of the U.S. Bartenders Guild David Nepove include libations such as the "Beaux-Tox," a drink made with cucumber vodka, coconut water, and muddled kiwi. Try the "James Dean" bourbon-based drink fused with unfiltered apple juice and cinnamon syrup. Beaux will also offer wine (red, white and sparkling) featuring Pine Ridge, Chalone, and Veuve Clicquot.
With "a cute staff that's also talented," (Joshua's words, but we concur), Beaux stands to become a new signature of Castro nightlife. Those who like to shake their groove thing will enjoy the lighting by Blue Haze Entertainment, and a top-notch audio experience from JK Sound.
But is creating new venues an uphill battle? Nearly half a dozen gay bars have changed owners in the past few years, not including the Beaux team's efforts.
With twelve years of independent nightclub promotion experience (the weekly Booty Call, and the notorious yet sadly gone Big Top and Stallion), Cook said that when he was asked to consider the project by its prospective owners, he didn't hesitate.
"We decided to reclaim the space that was Trigger," Cook said. "We had long conversations. Are people interested in nightlife? I advocate that there is, but the city is disappointed by what they're being offered. We don't want be a just vodka/soda bar."
And keeping the gayborhood gay was also a priority. "The space has historically been one of the oldest gay bars in Castro," said Cook. "So we were determined to not go to a straight conglomerate, and that was on the slate."
Cook cited co-owner Tim Eicher as "a huge advocate for the community. The Edge closed down and was not going to re-open" until Eicher and his partners stepped up. After the change of ownership, the historic bar enjoyed a spacious renovation and a renewed popularity. Cook said he hopes similar support shines on the new Beaux.
"We all worked very hard over the past year," he said. "As a party promoter, I've stepped away from producing and am focused on one venue to call my home base. Instead of being all over town, I wanted a place to oversee, and invite and provide a consistent event."
So, order a cocktail, find a big comfy chair to enjoy the view, or strut your stuff on the new dance floor, where you can expect hot local DJs like Guy Ruben, Russ Rich and Juanita More. Fridays, handsome gogo guys should distract you from the week's worries. Either way, welcome Beaux to the neighborhood.
Beaux, 2344 Market Street. 863-4027. www.facebook.com/beauxsf www.beauxsf.com