CHELSEA — The former home of Chelsea’s iconic gay bar Rawhide will soon become a high-end lingerie and sex toy shop.
Miki Ohana, the manager at neighboring sex shop The Blue Store, beat out several other gay bars that were competing for the space, where he hopes to open up the “intimate store” on the corner of West 21st Street and Eighth Avenue by Valentine’s Day.
“It’s going to be like a high-end store with high-end lingerie,” Ohana told DNAinfo Thursday. “We’re trying to bring to the block a new concept.”
Rawhide closed down after 33 years on Eighth Avenue in 2013, when the bar's landlord increased the rent from $15,000 to $27,000 a month. For decades, the bar advertised itself as having "NYC's hottest male dancers every night."
Chipotle-style pizza chain Project Pie was set to take over the space later that year, but the deal eventually fell through, according to brokers marketing the space.
The lingerie store's opening was first reported by Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York.
James Famularo, director of retail leasing at Eastern Consolidated who oversaw the rental, said he "fielded at least five offers from gay bars."
“The community really wanted it. I was hoping that one of them would win but it didn’t pan out that way,” he told DNAinfo.
The retail store won out over bars because it is more profitable, Famularo said, and because of concerns about liquor licensing and community board approval.
“You got bigger margins in this business,” he said.
But Famularo grieved the loss of the iconic bar.
“The place was Rawhide for over 32 years,” he said. “An associate of mine used to dance there. It was part of the history of Chelsea.”
Ohana said that the new store would not be primarily gay-oriented, comparing the offerings to those of upscale lingerie store Kiki de Montparnasse.
“Couples, straight, gay, lesbian, whatever,” Ohana said. “Black, white, all the races, everybody more than welcome.”