RUBYFRUIT 531 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NY OPEN 1994-2008 (NOW SWINE RESTAURANT, PICTURED) “Rubyfruit Bar and Grill, a lesbian bar and restaurant that opened in 1994 in the West Village, will soon close, as a result of higher rents and the more diffuse residential patterns of gay men and lesbians. ‘Back then in 1994 there wasn’t this liberation yet for lesbian women, so it became a haven with private, intimate dinners, great wines, a place to hold hands and feel comfortable being out and having dinner,’ said Rubyfruit’s owner, Debra C. Fierro, who told customers of her decision to close the business at a private event last Monday, then publicly announced her decision over the weekend. ‘Here we are in 2008, where they no longer need to have their own place. They can go anywhere and do whatever they want. It’s kind of a good thing, I guess.’ The bar, at 531 Hudson Street, between 10th and Charles Streets, is in an old carriage house. The monthly rent has risen to $11,000, from $6,500 in 1994, Ms. Fierro, 52, said in a phone interview. She has not pinpointed the closing date. The bar, named after Rita Mae Brown’s pioneering 1973 lesbian novel, ‘Rubyfruit Jungle,’ has been the scene of celebrations by fans of women’s basketball. Ms. Fierro cited several notable events in the bar’s existence. It was mentioned as a setting in the work of the novelist Patricia Cornwell. It was the scene for a retirement party for the tennis champion Martina Navratilova. Tammy Lynn Michaels, an actress who is the partner of the rock singer Melissa Etheridge, was spotted by a talent agent while she tended bar there. Celebrities from Liza Minnelli to Neil Sedaka to Billie Jean King have stopped by. Ms. Fierro, who grew up in Paterson, N.J., and lives on Long Island, said her establishment appealed to a certain generation of gay women — the pre-‘L Word’ generation, one might say. ‘I dedicated my life to this community, to the mature crowd of women,’ Ms. Fierro said. ‘My crowd is not young. They’re the older crowd. A lot of them have had babies, bought houses, settled in. They don’t come to hang out and cruise people every night.’ Now that the gay community is more dispersed — with a substantial lesbian population in Brooklyn, for example — the need for a gathering spot may be less, Ms. Fierro said. ‘I feel it’s bittersweet,’ she said. “It’s sad to see it go because it was so important, so necessary at one time. Yet if we’re liberated now and people can feel comfortable going anyplace, I’m happy for them. I wish we could have it all.” (Sewell Chan, The New York Times, 2008)

RUBYFRUIT 531 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NY OPEN 1994-2008 (NOW SWINE RESTAURANT, PICTURED) “Rubyfruit Bar and Grill, a lesbian bar and restaurant that opened in 1994 in the West Village, will soon close, as a result of higher rents and the more diffuse residential patterns of gay men and lesbians. ‘Back then in 1994 there wasn’t this liberation yet for lesbian women, so it became a haven with private, intimate dinners, great wines, a place to hold hands and feel comfortable being out and having dinner,’ said Rubyfruit’s owner, Debra C. Fierro, who told customers of her decision to close the business at a private event last Monday, then publicly announced her decision over the weekend. ‘Here we are in 2008, where they no longer need to have their own place. They can go anywhere and do whatever they want. It’s kind of a good thing, I guess.’ The bar, at 531 Hudson Street, between 10th and Charles Streets, is in an old carriage house. The monthly rent has risen to $11,000, from $6,500 in 1994, Ms. Fierro, 52, said in a phone interview. She has not pinpointed the closing date. The bar, named after Rita Mae Brown’s pioneering 1973 lesbian novel, ‘Rubyfruit Jungle,’ has been the scene of celebrations by fans of women’s basketball. Ms. Fierro cited several notable events in the bar’s existence. It was mentioned as a setting in the work of the novelist Patricia Cornwell. It was the scene for a retirement party for the tennis champion Martina Navratilova. Tammy Lynn Michaels, an actress who is the partner of the rock singer Melissa Etheridge, was spotted by a talent agent while she tended bar there. Celebrities from Liza Minnelli to Neil Sedaka to Billie Jean King have stopped by. Ms. Fierro, who grew up in Paterson, N.J., and lives on Long Island, said her establishment appealed to a certain generation of gay women — the pre-‘L Word’ generation, one might say. ‘I dedicated my life to this community, to the mature crowd of women,’ Ms. Fierro said. ‘My crowd is not young. They’re the older crowd. A lot of them have had babies, bought houses, settled in. They don’t come to hang out and cruise people every night.’ Now that the gay community is more dispersed — with a substantial lesbian population in Brooklyn, for example — the need for a gathering spot may be less, Ms. Fierro said. ‘I feel it’s bittersweet,’ she said. “It’s sad to see it go because it was so important, so necessary at one time. Yet if we’re liberated now and people can feel comfortable going anyplace, I’m happy for them. I wish we could have it all.” (Sewell Chan, The New York Times, 2008)