The public announcement that the Eagle is closing was a shock to gay Atlanta nightlife. But Richard Ramey, the owner of the iconic leather bar, said he’s known for a year that his days at the current location were numbered.
Talks between Ramey and the building owner about the bar’s future started early this year. Ramey was a year into a three-year lease – the last one he’d get for the Ponce de Leon Avenue building. Then coronavirus happened.
“The talks became a little bit more serious after March 18,” Ramey said during a new episode of Podcast Q. “That was the last day we were open before the pandemic.”
By the time the bar reopened in June, business plummeted and the Eagle’s dance floor remained off-limits as a safety precaution. That’s when Ramey knew it was time to shut down the bar and begin the search for a new location. The landlord – whose redevelopment plans for the adjoining building had collapsed – had a buyer for the property.
“If you really had that serious of a buyer and need me out of the way, in the back of my head I was thinking this would be a good time for us to relocate,” Ramey said.
Ramey detailed what led to the bar’s closing and the search for a new location in the Podcast Q interview. He also discussed stepping into the bar for the first time 33 years ago, owning it for more than two decades and how it became an unlikely champion of civil rights and police reform.
“I thought we could operate through the summer. But I kept trying to figure out how we were going to survive the winter. And that’s when I decided maybe this was the time for us to throw in the towel for a while and give everybody a break,” Ramey said.
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