2 new LA businesses end five-year drought of bars for queer women

Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Two new LA businesses end five year drought of bars for queer women
The Ruby Fruit in Silver Lake and Honey's at Star Love in Hollywood are thriving as they cater to lesbians and trans women.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- In a Silver Lake strip mall off of Sunset Boulevard sits a piece of Los Angeles history.

"People who have literally grabbed me by the shoulders and with tears in their eyes, thanked me," said The Ruby Fruit's co-owner Emily Bielagus. "They never could envision having a space like this."

The Ruby Fruit is a wine-forward restaurant and bar that serves lunch and dinner, hosting events centered around lesbians and trans women. Bielagus previously worked at the now-shuttered Eszett, and while there, she and Eszett's then-general manager Mara Herbkersman would often talk about one day opening this type of space.

The opportunity came sooner than expected. Eszett closed its doors in January. Taking over its lease meant staff would keep their jobs and a new concept could operate in a familiar kitchen. Herbkersman and Bielagus accelerated their plans. At the time, Los Angeles' LGBTQ+ social scene catered almost entirely to gay men, with bars lining West Hollywood's Santa Monica Boulevard.

According to the documentary short and campaign, The Lesbian Bar Project, there are just 27 bars nationwide specifically for gay and trans women.

For five years straight before 2023, L.A. had none.

"There's been an assumption I think over time that lesbians are not that fun-- we're kind of grumpy, we don't go out, we don't spend money, we're not sexy. And I think we are proving that wrong." said Bielagus as Herbkersman nodded in affirmation.

With every table occupied most afternoons and evenings, Herbkersman and Bielagus have proven they can create a space that feels good and is good business.

They have company.

Honey's, located in Hollywood, opened the same week as The Ruby Fruit. It is the night cap to the Ruby Fruit's dinner date - a natural progression.

Two and a half miles west, Honey's operates out of Star Love, a remodeled bar and events space.

It's how Kate Greenberg stumbled upon it, with the thought of opening a queer bar in the back of her mind. She said she called Charlotte Gordon, eventual business partner alongside Mo Faulk, immediately.

"Kate was so sure, and I was like, 'Ok let's see.' And then I saw the space and was like, you nailed it," said Gordon.

Greenberg, Gordon and Faulk have put their experience in events and hospitality to use, with collaborations, live DJs and karaoke that started as a one-off.

"Now we do it every other week," said Gordon. "I think it's nice we have that piece of programming that really come back for and rally around."

They have community, a place to run a tab, make some friends, and gather like never before.

"There feels like there's some sort of shift happening," said Greenberg. "People have said a queer renaissance... it's really timely that these bars are opening."