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Gossip Grill is more than just a woman-forward bar

Gossip Grill is not a lesbian bar, said Moe Girton, owner of the bar and nightclub. It is a woman-forward bar that plays with everyone.

“I thought using the word ‘lesbian’ pigeon-holed us,” she said. “Everyone who identifies at all with the woman inside them, even if it’s 10%, this is your bar.”

Women bars are closing down because it is more acceptable to be queer, according to Girton.

“It used to be unsafe to go to nongay bars. You might be harassed,” she said. “[But] you can go anywhere now.”

There is not as big of a demand for women or queer bars, but a safe place to retreat and be around like-minded people is still needed.

“You just hear so many stories about how safe spaces change your life, it gives you a sense of community,” Girton said.

Joey Adams, an employee at Gossip Grill for eight years said he felt at home the moment he stepped through the door. This is the longest job he has ever stayed at in San Diego, according to Adams.

Jen Griebel, another employee, said before she started working there she felt like this was the only place she could be herself.

“I lived a lot of my life thinking I was straight and when there were days in my life where I was trying to figure out who I was, Gossip was a place where I would come and hang out,” she said. “It is the one place where I felt like I could fully be myself when I came out as a lesbian. So I am living my best life honestly.”

It was once the only women-forward space in San Diego and is one of 21 women bars in the nation, according to The Lesbian Bar Project.

But Gossip Grill has a secret lover who lives across the street and her name is Barrel & Board.

The new upscale LGBTQ+ bar-restaurant and event space is Gossip Grill’s classy girlfriend specializing in woman-forward spirits and wine.

“[Gossip Grill] is the type that just wants to have fun and dance the night away…throwing money at Drag Queens. Barrel is the more sophisticated one that likes ‘boujee’ stuff like nice bottles of wine and whiskey. They are a power couple,” she said.

Girton manages both places, but like all success stories, the birth of this power couple started with a leap of faith.

Girton was a bartender at Baja Betty’s before opening up Gossip Grill in 2009. She said she turned down the opportunity to establish it twice before giving in on the third time. Baja Betty’s paid well with very little responsibility, she was getting stagnant and realized it was time for her to make a change, Girton said.

“It was a very large pay cut to [leave Baja Betty’s], but it was an investment,” she said. “Sometimes you gotta take a step back to go forward in the future.”

The only thing she demanded was that it be a “woman’s bar” and not use the word “lesbian.” She said she wanted to use the word “woman” as an umbrella term for whoever identifies at all with the female inside them.

With only a few women bars left in the nation, Gossip Grill’s safe environment is sacred to some frequent visitors.

The place was exploding at the seams within the first six months of opening up. The community was starving for a women-forward safe space and their first small location could not quench that hunger. Their current location has been home for them for seven years.

Girton said Gossip Grill plays with everyone, but keeps things around the club like woman portraits on the wall, vagina piñatas and “Welcome home, Beautiful” neon signs greeting you at the dance floor, to emphasize that woman’s touch.

When on the dance floor, look up above the mirrored wall to find Anastasia Beaverhausen poised in a glass box watching over the party. She is the Keeper of the Dance Floor.

Girton emphasizes that Gossip Grill is also a community center and a home for many. She said it is a natural instinct for some to call the bar and ask for help. People also come whenever something happens: whether it be the shooting in Orlando, President Joe Biden’s inauguration or Southern California’s 2010 blackout. The Gossip Grill team will pull out the candles and serve business as usual.

Gossip Grill also has a place to remember those lost in the LGBTQ+ community. The disco ball Bette Midler, singer and songwriter used to come down from during her Las Vegas

performances is now a shrine where anyone who has lost a loved one can put a memory of them in the disco ball to watch over others on the dance floor.

“You don’t think you need the spaces until you do,” she said. “Or if you come in for the first time and you’re like ‘wow, why isn’t this in every city?’ It’s definitely needed and there is gonna be a comeback.”

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