The Gottingen corridor between North Street and Cogswell Street has had many faces over the last hundred years. And in the last few decades, the gay community of Halifax has found a home there.
A number of LGBTQI-friendly businesses now operate on Gottingen: The Company House, Sea Dog's Sauna and Spa, One Block Barbershop and, of course, the always-glam Menz & Mollyz Bar.
Last April, co-owner Doug Melanson retired from the gay bar biz, which gave co-owner David Landry the opportunity to take full ownership. And with the turnover comes a new future for Menz.
"We have tried to evolve over the years while always being inclusive," says Landry. "Originally it was just a men's bar, because Club NRG and Club VorTex were still on the street. But then we turned into Menz & Mollyz and moved to where we are now in 2005, which is a fairly large space."
Menz & Mollyz Bar has worked hard to be a special establishment, with strong and very clear business principles. "Every business on the street does their own thing and everybody has a unique piece of the market, so we focus on what we do, which is offering good customer service, a clean space and a safe space," Landry explains. "I've found over the years that people struggling with their sexuality in the gay community, they come work with us saying they're straight but eventually come out. People are safe here, and that's one reason we care so much about Gottingen Street."
But Menz & Mollyz isn't just a gay bar.
"We're a gay bar, but we're also here for our community," says manager Darryll Veinot. "Our community begins when you walk out that door. It's what's central to us, who lives here, and we're here to support them every way we can. There's more to it than gay people. We are here for everyone."
As such, Menz & Mollyz has opened its bookings to local groups, private parties and especially local bands (of all orientations), which can be accommodated in the newly minted Rainbow Room.
"Along with Pride Week, we're doing a fundraiser for the Rebel Girl Halifax Rock Camp, and we're set up to do birthday events, weddings, drag shows, basically anything. We're capable of doing more than we've done before, and we are here for our customers, which is everyone," says Veinot.
Loyal or new, customers are the biggest part of what satisfies Landry about running Menz Bar.
"It's such a community space. Just last week, someone thanked me for keeping it going," says the full-time nurse practitioner. "I can see that the future of Gottingen is going to be really diverse, for every person and every colour. It's going to be the street that accepts you, no matter who you are or how much money you have. And that is also the future of Menz & Mollyz."