The Rainbow Lounge was destroyed by fire on June 1. The fire is still under investigation. Glen. E. Ellman Special to the Star Telegram
The Rainbow Lounge was destroyed by fire on June 1. The fire is still under investigation. Glen. E. Ellman Special to the Star Telegram

Fort Worth

Rainbow Lounge, destroyed by fire, will reopen at new location

By Robert Cadwallader

rcadwallader@star-telegram.com

July 12, 2017 10:33 AM

FORT WORTH

The Rainbow Lounge, the iconic Fort Worth gay bar destroyed by fire on June 1, won’t rise from the ashes as many patrons had hoped, but it will reopen in the same neighborhood.

The bar announced on its Facebook page that it will return to business in a large warehouse at 212 Lipscomb St., about a half-mile from the scorched hull of its former home at 651 Jennings Ave.

“Old converted warehouses make beautiful bars,” the Facebook post said. “We apologize it’s taken so long, but these things take time. We should be up and running in a couple of months.”

The bar’s owner, Tom McAvoy of Florida, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fire investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire, Lt. Kyle Falkner, a fire department spokesman, said Wednesday morning. “This is still an active and ongoing investigation.”

The Rainbow Lounge would occupy the majority of the red-and-black-brick building that formerly housed Morrison Surplus Outlet but apparently would share it with two other bars that are preparing spaces on the south end of the warehouse, according to an owner of one of the bars.

Jimmy Morton, who was on the newly built patio behind the 3,000-square-foot Twilite Lounge Wednesday morning, said he had “heard the rumors” of the Rainbow relocation and welcomed it.

“I’d be excited about it,” said Morton, co-owner of the Twilite Lounge, a spinoff of the nightclub of the same name and “New Orleans vibe” in the Deep Ellum district of east Dallas. “As you drive around, there’s not a whole lot down here. It should bring a lot of foot traffic. They’re more than welcome.”

Morton, who was general manager of the Dallas Twilite, said the lease on the new site in the old Morrison Surplus building was signed about a year ago. After some delays, he’s hoping to open in August.

He said another bar, the Anvil Lounge, which he described roughly as an Irish biker bar, plans to occupy the space between the Twilite and Rainbow. Another Anvil is Twilite’s neighbor in Deep Ellum.

Morton is excited about the future of the location. Immediately west, College Avenue is under reconstruction, and he said the owner of property along that street told him retail storefronts and condos are planned.

Gay ‘safe space’

The Rainbow Lounge had served the LGBT community since it opened in 1969, when it was named 651.

It became the flashpoint for gay rights in Fort Worth on June 28, 2009, when a “bar check” by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and Fort Worth police got heavy-handed, resulting in injuries to two patrons along with several public intoxication arrests. TABC agent firings and police suspensions resulted from the raid. It occurred on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City that launched the national gay rights movement in 1969.

Robert L. Camina, a Dallas filmmaker whose documentary “Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” explored the incident’s effect on the Fort Worth gay rights movement, commended the “resilience and drive” of LGBT people “to build a better community in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid in 2009.”

And he praised the nightclub’s owners for serving that mission by working to open “another safe space for the gay community so quickly.”

“It was such a shock to the community that the Rainbow Lounge burned down on the first day of Gay Pride Month,” Camina said. “It keeps to the history of gay Fort Worth by staying in that area. A lot of gay bars have been in that area over the decades.”

Rainbow Lounge destroyed by fire

The Rainbow Lounge, a downtown nightclub and focal point, was destroyed by fire early Thursday morning.

Glen E. Ellman Special to the Star-Telegram

Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann_ST

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