Georgie’s Alibi: New Owners, same fabulous place
On almost every Thursday night for the past 10 years the scenario at the Shops of Wilton Manors has been the same: The Parking lot full to capacity, cars navigating trying to find a spot to squeeze into and the crowd spilling into the streets, long island ice teas in hand. It doesn’t take much savvy to realize that this is the place to be, and the reason is simple. The strip mall is home to Georgie’s Alibi.
For the uninitiated, Georgie’s Alibi is one of South Florida’s most popular gay bars, located in the city of Wilton Manors, a small area inside metropolitan Fort Lauderdale that is distinguished for its huge amount of glbt residents and the vast amount of business catering to the gay population. Georgie’s or the Alibi, two of the nicknames it often goes by, is a video-bar, cafe and sports bar that has distinguished itself as much for the fantastic music video and comedy skits featured on the various screens throughout as for their very affordable modestly priced drinks.
In Mid-May, shortly after it’s 10-year anniversary, Terry Norman and Ron Gofrank two of the three partners who own the club sold their share. Remaining on as a partner is the man for whom the bar is named, George Kessinger. Kessinger also owns two other establishments of the same name, one in St. Petersburg and the other opening this fall in Palm Springs, California. Neither of which is affected by this deal Joining Kessinger as proprietors are Jackson Padgett and Mark Negrete who also own Bill’s Filling Station, another popular gay bar located in Wilton Manors. The new owners are excited about the purchase and about working with Kessinger. " George is a wealth of knowledge ...He has created an environment that welcomes all and allows everyone to feel comfortable. We intend to mix our experience, with the knowledge that we will learn from him to ensure a thriving venue for all to enjoy". Said Padgett. A formal announcement party will be held at the bar on June 15th.
The last year has been a significant one for South Florida’s gay nightlife. Club O-Zone, one of the few gay nightclubs located off South Beach in South Miami, closed its doors on new years day after a successful 15 year run. The large dance club, which was a popular spot for the gay Latino community, lost its lease after the neighboring University of Miami purchased the property. Club owner Ed O’Reilly has indicated that he and his partners are seeking out other venues where to open. In Broward county similar changes have occurred. Cathode Ray, the bar and dance club located on famed Las Olas Boulevard for 23 years, was sold by owner Larry Wald. Wald has relinquished the locale for a hefty profit but not the rights to the name, and plans on opening another Cathode Ray in the area in the near future. In January, Elements located in Wilton Manors and known for its Latino and lesbian nights also changed hands. It is currently home to Scandals, a gay country western bar owned by Ken Kelley and Lloyd Pagels.
Padgett remains confident in their purchase and in the promise to keep Alibi’s the place that patron have come to rely on. "Their is nothing to fix, only hoping to be able to enhance an already successful establishment" confirmed Padgett, who went on to say "Both Bill’s and Alibi has been in our community for over 10 years and each has been major supporters of the GLBT community. This falls under the same philosophy that Mark and I live by. We want to see our community to remain stable and offer consistency in products and service. I believe this continues to solidify the GLBT community as a permanent and needed presence in South Florida and society as a
Mark Negrette, 38, moved to Florida 14 years ago, a Business and theology major from Chicago he worked in the retail and hospitality industries. His business and life partner of the past three years, Jackson Padgett, 41, also comes from a similar background having majored in business and business law and working in the hotel and hospitality industry. The Charleston, South Carolina native moved to South Florida four years ago. The two live in near-by Oakland Park with their two Mountain Feists dogs, Cosmo and Xena but have a second home to escape to in Tennessee. Both have been touched by the warm reception the community has given them, and promise to be very hands-on in the running of the business.
Off to a running start, they are busy planning events at Georgie’s Alibi for Stonewall and Pride weekend. At Bill’s Filling Station they plan to expand on the already popular Thursday Karaoke night with a second night of fun on Tuesdays to be hosted by "Two guys on a Mic" Ric and Andy.
For locals looking for a neighborhood bar or out of town guests seeking the hot spot, it seems that Bills’ Filling Station and Georgie’s Alibi will continue to be places you can count on for fun crowds, good music and affordable cocktails. Padgett and Negrete promise to work hard and keep it that way.