Below Zero Lounge to Close Its Doors After 15 Years

Iconic Cincinnati LGBTQ bar Below Zero Lounge and its upstairs Cabaret are closing their doors in April.

click to enlarge Below Zero Lounge - PHOTO: FACEBOOK.COM/BELOWZEROLOUNGE
Photo: Facebook.com/BelowZeroLounge
Below Zero Lounge

Iconic Cincinnati LGBTQ bar Below Zero Lounge has announced it is closing its doors after 15 years of serving the Queen City.

Owners Nigel Cotterill and his partner Juan-Carlos Diaz announced on Facebook that they have decided not to renew the lease for Below Zero to "take on a new life adventure." The bar and the upstairs Cabaret, which has been hosting weekend drag shows for 11 years, will close on April 11. They say their time will be focused on their other bar, Tillie’s Lounge in Northside.

click to enlarge Below Zero Lounge announced its pending closure on Facebook. - PHOTO: FACEBOOK.COM/BELOWZEROLOUNGE
Photo: facebook.com/BelowZeroLounge
Below Zero Lounge announced its pending closure on Facebook.

While Cotterill and Diaz are happy to move on to this next chapter of their lives, they say they are still sad to see this successful venture close, writing in the post, “It would be remiss to say the success of Below Zero Lounge and The Cabaret wasn’t greatly in part due to the incredible staff and cast, the overwhelming support of the Cincinnati community and many wonderful organizations they were fortunate enough to collaborate with.”

click to enlarge Below Zero owners JC Diaz (left) and Nigel Cotterill - PHOTO: HAILEY BOLLINGER
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Below Zero owners JC Diaz (left) and Nigel Cotterill

Just last year, the popular spot made Yelp's “Top 100 LGBTQ+ Bars Across the U.S.” list. The bar is meant to be a safe haven where anyone and everyone can gather. Walk into the establishment at night and you’ll see people wearing tuxes and gowns sipping on cocktails right next to people in T-shirts and flip-flops.

“Some nights the bar is completely straight. Some nights it’s completely all women. Sometimes it’s all 60 (and older) people,” Diaz told CityBeat in a 2018 interview. “I think that for the most part, everyone feels really welcome here and feels like they can be themselves without any judgment. And that’s important. You need to have harbors of safe spaces, especially with what the hell is going on with the world today.”

Of course, this iconic bar wouldn't go out without a bang. Below Zero Lounge and The Cabaret will be hosting a two-part anniversary/last call series. The first event will take place at The Cabaret on April 2 and the second at Below Zero Lounge on April 9.

The bar also says those interested in taking over the property/liquor license can contact their landlord.

Below Zero Lounge and The Cabaret are located at 1120 Walnut St., Over-the-Rhine. Find more information about the final celebration at belowzerolounge.com.

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