For most business owners an eviction notice wouldn’t be cause for celebration. But Doug Melanson, co-owner of the gay bar and diner Mollyz/Menz in Halifax, sees his as just that.
“There’s a silver lining in every cloud, as they say, and this is our silver lining,” he says.
Mollyz (the diner) and Menz (the bar) have been operating in their current location on Gottingen St since early 2005. In late October, Melanson and business partner David Landry were handed a notice from their building’s new owner, Mickey MacDonald, informing them that Mollyz/Menz will have to move out by Jan 25, 2008. Melanson says MacDonald plans to tear down the building that houses part of Mollyz to put in a parking lot.
Luckily, Melanson and Landry have already found a new home for their business, just three doors down on the opposite side of the street. Melanson says that the new location is a chance “to produce something new and exciting here in Halifax for the gay community.”
He says when Menz reopens in the new spot in January it will be larger and funkier, with an industrial vibe. Mollyz, the diner, will have a retooled menu and “a new look and new feel.”
“[The relocation will] definitely have a positive impact…. It’s going to bring us to the next level,” says Melanson.
Kevin Kindred, chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project, says that Mollyz/Menz is an important part of the Halifax queer scene and is glad to see that it will reopen.
“Mollyz and Menz Bar has evolved into sort of a cornerstone of the gay scene here in Halifax and it would be sad to see any change happening,” says Kindred, “though sometimes change is good and I look forward to seeing Doug’s plans for the future.”
While Melanson is excited about the move, he says the process has been “frustrating a bit nerve-wracking.” He and Landry had been negotiating an expansion of Mollyz/Menz into the adjacent building before a fire damaged their current location in July. According to Melanson, Mollyz/Menz was then renovated to the tune of more than $55,000, which was paid for out of their insurance.
Melanson also says that he was under the impression that he would have the first option to purchase the building, but that Panagos instead sold it to MacDonald in a deal that closed just before they received their notice. “After us spending three years renovating his building and improving it and then him turning around and selling it out from under us was pretty underhanded,” says Melanson.
Panagos sees it differently. He says that Melanson and Landry were given the option to purchase the building but passed on the offer, leading him to sell to MacDonald, who had already purchased the building next door for use as a boxing club.
In addition to the chance to expand and reimagine the bar, Melanson says there’s another unforeseen benefit of the real estate shuffle.
“We’re going to have a great view of all the musclemen and the boxers coming out of the new boxing club,” he says. “We’re going to take full advantage of the view of all the hunky men.”