St. Petersburg Gay Bars Get Slammed Following Hurricane Irma


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In a world filled with technology and instant gratification response times, several days without power, internet service, and Netflix can feel like an eternity.

It came as no surprise that the St Petersburg area LGBT community was chomping at the bit for social interaction by Tuesday evening.

“We got power back sometime yesterday morning and were slammed on Tuesday afternoon after opening the doors at 2:00 PM,” said Ed Gonzales, owner of Enigma Bar and Lounge.

Gonzales was amazed by the minimal damage to the property. “I was expecting the worst, but there wasn’t even a hint of a scratch.”

Enigma closed at 8:00 PM on Wednesday evening before the storm to give employees enough time to evacuate the building. By Tuesday, the staff was ready to step in and get the bar back up and running, even if it meant an inability to use credit card machines.

“At this point, our internet services are down and we can only accept cash, but our employees don’t seem to care. They’re just excited to get back to work.”

Gonzales plans to organize several benefits for Naples, Jacksonville, and Key West areas of the state. But right now, he’s putting employees first. “Several of our team members are still without power and water. I have invited many to my house to take a shower and cool off.”

Punky’s Bar and Grill is also up and running following Hurricane Irma. Co-Owner Brian Longstreth reported that the restaurant never lost power.

“The biggest challenge from before the storm and aftermath is balancing the safety of our employees and their financial needs,” said Longstreth. “Punky’s was closed on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and we’ve been working with skeleton crews since the Friday before the storm and this week, as employees are able to return from evacuation zones.”

Punky’s Bar & Grill suffers minor damages following Hurricane Irma. (Image by Brian Longstreth)

Unlike Enigma, Punky’s has a full kitchen, in addition to their bar. However, the restaurant is feeling Irma’s impact with supply constraints. “We have some supply issues, so the menu is somewhat flexible.”

As for damage, Longstreth says, “There was minor damage to the roof and soffit and fence.”

Punky’s turned Wednesday night’s bingo4hcarity event into a benefit event and plans to host others. In addition, the bar ordered extra bottled water from their supplier, gave some to their employees, and will donate 30 cases to South Florida relief efforts.

On October 12th, Gonzalez and Longstreth will partner for Come Out St Pete’s Red Hot After Party at Enigma featuring Voodoo House Music with DJ Blaze Blake, drink specials, and NO COVER!

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july, 2024

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