Blame Gloria: Queer Emporium launches petition against cocktail bar chain

A petition has been launched against plans to open a bar next to a venue serving vulnerable LGBTQ young people in Cardiff.

Blame Gloria, a chain of retro cocktail bars with locations in Clapham and Covent Garden, recently obtained an alcohol license to open on St Marys Street in Cardiff.

The site, however, is directly adjacent to The Queer Emporium – a non-profit cafe and store hosting independent LGBTQ businesses.

The Queer Emporium holds regular social events and workshops for queer people in the city – including Transitionwhich provides a safe space for trans and non-binary people to explore their gender and make friends – and often serves as a venue for LGBTQ self-help groups to meet vulnerable people using their services.

The venue is concerned that the potential presence of drunk bar patrons outside could discourage people from visiting.

As a result, local opposition had mounted to the license application from Adventure Bar Group – owner of the Blame Gloria franchise – but the offer was approved by Cardiff Council last week.

A petition was launched to challenge the decision, garnering hundreds of signatures on day one.

The open letter attached to the petition can be viewed here.

“We always knew something was going to open up next to us, but we really hoped it wasn’t,” Queer Emporium owner Yan White wrote in a statement late Thursday.

The Queer Emporium regularly hosts social events for the local LGBTQ community. (Photo: Shash Appan)

“We really hoped that Cardiff Council would consider the protection of a space that has so many gay children and other marginalized parts of our community walking through its door as more important than the large drinking establishments during the day.

“We all want to reassure you that we will continue to fight this in order to protect this space, and I am doing everything I can, but at the end of the day we are up against a big company with lawyers in London, and we are a small non-profit that started as a pop-up.”

Mr White said he had approached Blame Gloria directly to seek a compromise, but they had been unable to reach an arrangement ‘that would not compromise the safety of our customers’.

The statement drew support from author Charlie Craggs, podcaster Alexis Caught and local drag queen Victoria Scone, best known for competing in Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK.

Adventure Bar Group is the same company behind other Tonight Josephine chains – of which there is a branch in Cardiff – Adventure Bar and The Escapologist.

Blame Gloria is a ’70s-themed cocktail bar that hosts “bottomless brunches” on weekends, in which a flat rate is paid for unlimited liquor refills in addition to a daytime meal .

Widely marketed for bachelorette parties, promotional material for the bar’s bottomless “Disco” brunch promises “a day filled with lip-syncing battles, rousing dancing and, above all, copious amounts of booze.”

Anjeline Whittier, a senior public health professional with NHS Wales and supporter of The Queer Emporium’s petition, said: “I actually really want to go to this new bar – I’m right in their target demographic, in as a woman in her late twenties who loves a cheeky cocktail and neon dreams.

“I would spend so much money there if I was convinced management cared about public mental health – but that’s the dilemma.

“Casual street harassment is a part of life when you are perceived as ‘different’, and drunkenness exacerbates this.

“The Queer Emporium is so familiar with working with vulnerable populations that they already have a safeguard policy in place – right Adventure Bar Group?

“And if so, how do they plan to enforce it once the customers have left?”

The Queer Emporium reports that one in 10 patrons are under the age of 18 or have a dependent child, and half of its visitors have a long-term health condition or consider themselves disabled.

Ms Whittier added: “Under 18s can’t go to bars – do they really need to deal with drunk people spilling into the only place they’re allowed to be, during the only hours when they are not at school?

“If an LGBT+ parent is out with their young child, shouldn’t they be able to sneak out without worrying about safety?

“Who looks after the well-being of people for whom bars are not an option? »

A lawyer representing Adventure Bar Group at the public meeting where its license was granted, James Anderson, tried to reassure those affected at the time, saying the bar is “essentially an evening operator” which would open from noon on Saturday and from 4.30 p.m. or 5 p.m. on weekdays.


He added: ‘Mary’s, which is an award-winning LGBT+ venue, is across the street from us – it can’t be so bad if a venue, which really specializes in offering to this community, is across the street from us. .

“Safe spaces and mental health are of course things we take very seriously, but we don’t think having a space for young people to go out and have fun is at odds with mental health.

“If anything, respectfully, we think it’s a good thing for people to be able to hang out, have a drink, eat, maybe be entertained and have fun.”

A Cardiff Council spokesman confirmed: “The Licensing Sub-Committee heard this application and acknowledged the concerns of those who made representations, but felt that no evidence had been presented that the Granting the request would jeopardize the promotion of any of the four Licensed Purposes, including that of crime prevention and disorder.

“The claimant had agreed to certain additional terms offered by South Wales Police as part of the consultation process.

“Where there is no evidence provided that a premises license will compromise the objectives of the licence, there is a presumption to grant the application.

“If there is evidence that a licensed establishment is undermining the aims of the licence, the Licensing Act 2003 allows anyone to apply for a review of the establishment’s licence.”

Additional reporting: Local Democracy Reporting Service

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