The long time West Palm Beach neighborhood bar, H.G. Roosters, celebrates 35 years this weekend. It’s the oldest LGBT bar in the county.
“We’re honored to have opportunity to serve the community for the last 35 years,” said David Zen, general manager of Roosters. “Our customers are absolutely amazing and they’re what keeps us motivated. We take pride in being a diverse safe space for everyone in the community.”
On Saturday the bar will celebrate 35 years with an open bar from 9:30-10:30 and a special show, Divas of the Palm Beaches with Melissa St. John, at 11 p.m.
Roosters opened its doors at 823 Belvedere Rd in West Palm Beach in 1984. At the time Bill Capozzi and Tom McKenzie owned the business.
By the way H.G. stands for Heidi and Greta, Capozzi and McKenzie’s nicknames.
“Back then we used girl names for people,” current owner AJ Wasson said with a chuckle.
Wasson was at the bar on opening night and soon took over as night manager on Sundays.
“I helped paint the place,” Wasson remembers. While his job at the bar was short lived his friendship with Capozzi lasted until the former owner died in 2006. After that Wasson became the owner.
“Roosters’ 35th anniversary should be celebrated as the milestone it really is — a life saver for many. I know that sounds crazy, but stick with me on this: 35 years ago, home was not a very safe place for me and there was no such thing as LGBT community centers, or GSA clubs,” said Julie Seaver, executive director of Compass. “As a closeted teen, gay bars offered a place of respite and a way to experience many things for the first time: other gay people, nightlife, happiness and freedom, grief and loss, and maybe the end of my old life. A simple but heartfelt message: Happy Birthday to Roosters…I thank you for giving many of us a place to feel safe and be ourselves….cheers to another 35 years!"
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