JACKSON HEIGHTS — A new gay bar and lounge on Roosevelt Avenue offers classic cocktails and a welcoming atmosphere to everyone on the diverse stretch, according to the owner, who'd like to create a "better world" through his space.
Hector Marquez, 32, spent eight years at bars in Manhattan, working his way up from cleaner to bartender, he said.
He opened Tempo Libero — which means "leisure" or "free time" in Italian — two months ago, which is something he'd dreamed of in his years working in other bars.
"After working in Manhattan I thought Jackson Heights, especially on Roosevelt, needs something different," he said. "We need something like a real lounge, with nice music."
He's now created what he feels is a fun and relaxing lounge with affordable drinks and friendly service, and although it's a gay bar, it welcomes everyone, he said.
"We have everything for everybody," he said. "I feel happy when I see a gay couple, a straight couple and a transgender couple together in one place."
Many of the nearby bars are bailaderos — dance clubs — or other loud clubs, he said. His goal for Tempo Libero is to focus on a relaxing vibe, with a focus on cocktails and wines — which is why he gave it an Italian name, to conjure up an idea of a vineyard, he said.
The bar sells beer and wine from around the world, and cocktails including a margarita with a Coronita beer inside as well as classics such as Manhattans and martinis.
Each night of the week has a different theme, too. Friday night is Mexican night, featuring salsa and bachata; Thursday is hip-hop night, and the weekends he mixes it up.
Marquez said he's listening to his customers to see what they want, and his main concern is making everybody feel good and accepted.
The bar's logo of two Gladiators, while going along with his Italian theme, represents the continued fight for gay rights and behind the lounge interior is a bigger mission.
"I want to fight for a better world," Marquez said.
Tempo Libero, 88-08 Roosevelt Ave. Open Monday through Sunday, 5 p.m. until 2 a.m.