Gay bar eyes new owner deal

Priscillas' potential rebirth has been welcomed by the gay community
Priscillas' potential rebirth has been welcomed by the gay community
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ONE of the best known bars on the Capital’s gay scene could be set for a new lease of life just weeks after its shock closure.

Priscillas, in Leith Walk, which was self-styled as the top karaoke and cabaret bar in the Capital, shut suddenly three weeks ago after five years of trading.

It has emerged that a new potential owner is in advanced talks to take over the bar and is committed to ensuring it remains a fixture on the gay circuit.

Elaine Douglas, business development manager for the Iona Pub Partnership, said that a deal could be confirmed within the next week.

“There’s been a lot of interest,” she said. “The person we are talking to has got some huge plans. They were previously in the licensed trade on the gay scene and are highly regarded on the circuit.

“They want to keep the general feel but give it a spruce up. Their plan is to invest and relaunch it.”

Priscillas became known for its entertainment, competitively priced drinks, fishbowls and cocktails. It was unusual as it sat outside the traditional pink triangle area.

The bar also held a licence for 5am opening on a Saturday, making it popular with nightclub staff. It is estimated that the venue took £5000 in average weekly sales.

It is understood that the previous landlady, Debra Keith, had left the pub to pursue other ventures.

Prominent members of the gay community welcomed news of its potential rebirth.

Gary Leek, who runs the Gayzout Network Edinburgh website, said: “Priscillas was always a traditional gay venue, which we never used to have in Edinburgh. There was nothing else like it.

“The clientele was mixed but everyone was welcome and it had its own niche. I think it appealed because it had something for everybody and it was more down to earth.

“They had a good mix of cabaret and music. People in other bars tend to come and go, but people in there at 8pm would still be there at 11.”

Edinburgh’s gay football team, Hot Scots FC, praised the previous owners, who had provided sponsorship. Chairman Kevin Rowe said: “They were very supportive of the team. In fact, one of the managers is a member of the club and runs our training.”

Darren Kavanagh, of QS Magazine, has run gay club nights in Edinburgh and said he hoped that new owners would overhaul the venue while still retaining its original charm.

“A lot of people were very disappointed to see it go,” he said. “Priscillas always catered for a different market. Some see its location in Leith Walk as a disadvantage, but I see it as an advantage. It’s healthy to have a diverse range of bars set in diverse locations.”

He also called for the 5am openings to be scrapped, saying they often attracted trouble which affected its reputation.

“It makes money, but they shouldn’t be the type of people you make money from. It’s asking for trouble,” he said. “It got a bit of a bad name. It was always more of a cabaret bar and that should remain its ethos.

“Whoever takes it on has to have strong management and a strong plan. I think it’s got one more chance and that’s it.”