The U Street NW strip will welcome a new LGBTQ-friendly establishment by the end of the year that plans to eventually house a sprawling beer garden out back and four bars in all.
Kiki will fill in the neighboring buildings left behind by iconic watering holes Velvet Lounge and Dodge City (915-917 U Street NW), which permanently closed during the pandemic. The new project comes from Keaton Fedak, the outgoing general manager at nearby gay bar Dirty Goose.
Kiki hopes to debut in mid-December on the Velvet side, complete with two dance floors, a stage for weekly drag shows, and bar serving margaritas on draft.
“We’re not going to have anything too extensive just because it’s the dance floor area,” he says. “Classic cocktails but nothing too crazy.”
By next May, Kiki will expand into Dodge City’s former address and add a modern lounge and sports-themed bar dedicated to LGBTQ teams (Fedak’s a member of D.C.’s Gay Flag Football League). The team will also build out a backyard beer garden with a dozen beers on draft. The food partner is TBA, and Fedak notes there’s enough space for a food truck out back.
The landlords of the next-door buildings are cousins, so the option to lease both came to fruition fast once he showed interest. While the walls can’t be knocked down, Kiki will be connected by the beer garden out back. Modifications to the aging spaces include cosmetic upgrades and wall accents integrating all-inclusive colors.
One of his favorite quotes from Schitt’s Creek — “I like the wine and not the label” — will be made into a mural out back.
“We want to create a safe space for the LGBTQ community and offer something a little new D.C.’s lacking on lately,” he says. “We’re hoping to make a gayborhood in Shaw.”
He likens the dance floor vibe to that of Dupont’s dearly missed Cobalt. Town Danceboutique left Shaw after a decade in 2018 to make way for condos.
Rotating events will include a Thursday underwear contest and “Brews, Beards, and Dogs” happy hour, along with weekly and daily drink discounts.
Dirty Goose co-founder Justin Parker says he’s “happy” for his outgoing general manager and agrees the city could use more LGBTQ-friendly bars.
“It’s always good to have competition — especially when you’re on the same block,” says Parker, who expanded his 5-year-old bar’s rooftop during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, a new queer dance bar and cafe called As You Are Bar just found a home on Barracks Row.
Across the street from Kiki and Dirty Goose, unaffiliated gay establishment Nellie’s Sports Bar made negative headlines this June after a security guard assaulted a Black woman. Following an investigation by D.C.’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, the popular bar was fined $5,000 and its license was suspended for seven days for violating District code in allowing multiple altercations inside an overcrowded space.
“Unfortunately that happened the first Pride back when it was so good to see everyone and the whole scene was good,” says Parker. “[Then] to have it end on that note ... it could have gone such a different way.”