Last Call at Pi: Won 2008 Lavender Fab 50 Award for Best Bar To Meet Women
Pi Bar and Restaurant, which recently won the 2008 Lavender Fab 50 Award for Best Bar To Meet Women, closed its doors on November 15. It had opened February 9, 2007. The final weekend was a time for patrons to celebrate a small business that brought together a diverse clientele, and contributed to the queer community. The closing was a bittersweet experience for owner Tara Yule and the staff. Almost all 35 staff members have been with Pi from the beginning.
Yule cites financial issues that led to her decision to close. A balloon payment for the Pi building in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis came due in September.
According to Yule, “Cash flow is a definite factor. We couldn’t get the building refinanced. Loans are really tight. We are truly a victim of what the economy is going through right now.”
Yule boasts, “I’m so proud of this place and the things that have happened here. I don’t think there’s another place like this in the Cities, nor do I think there’s another really dedicated queer space in the nation.”
Pi offered a place for community events and fund-raising for local organizations. The spirit of the bar embraced a broad spectrum of queer identity.
Yule muses, “I think a lot of the bar crowd has moved to political action and social action, more toward a social sphere for congregating as a community. I really learned a lot about the division in our community. I truly in my heart intended for there to be a space for everybody there wasn’t a space for. Gender is so fluid, and there’s such a spectrum. The last few months, we tried to focus on being as diverse as our staff was, which was queer in the broadest sense of the term. A lot of people understood the magic of this place. Amazing things happened here every day.”
Ruth Menard, a bartender who was with Pi since its opening, wishes the bar’s original vision could have been conveyed better: “Pi has provided a home and a family to us. A lot of people missed out. It’s an enormous shame and a waste. We tried really hard, bending over backwards to accommodate [people from] every walk of life who came through the door. We put ourselves on the map in two years. Anyone with a dream and good friends to help—I hope they’re inspired by Pi.”
Pi’s legacy will stay with the community, the staff, and especially Yule, who remarks, “I don’t consider it a failure at all. I consider it a great success for what it was intended to be. It’s changed my life completely. I’m not afraid of anything anymore.”