Will the gay guys walking along Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood’s Boystown give up their Nikes, Adidas’s and Vans for Tony Lamas’s, Fryes and Luccheses? Will those baseball caps worn bill-backwards give way to Stetsons? Will a Country / Western bar make it in a gay neighborhood now dominated by clubs that offer only DJs and go go boys, making them relatively indistinguishable from one another?
Those are the questions being asked by observers of life in West Hollywood’s Boystown with the news that Eleven Bar & Nightclub is being replaced by Flaming Saddles, the city’s first Country / Western bar.
Chris Barnes says we should have an answer soon. Barnes owns Flaming Saddles with Jacqui Squatriglia, who he describes as his partner “in business and romance for six years.” In 2011, the couple opened the first Flaming Saddles on Ninth Avenue in New York City on the northern edge of the city’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. From noon to 4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, he and Squatriglia will open the doors at 8811 Santa Monica Blvd. at Larrabee to begin recruiting staff for an anticipated opening before Thanksgiving in West Hollywood.
In an email exchange, Barnes told WEHOville that they are looking to hire bartenders, barbacks, security staff and cooks. Applicants don’t need to know who Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney are. “Flaming Saddles looks for bartenders who can dance, and dancers who can bartend — high energy, vibrant personalities who are fluid in customer service,” Barnes said. “Jacqui is s seasoned choreographer who runs a very professional audition and has a keen eye for who’s best.”
“They need not have any familiarity with Country or Country Rock,” Barnes wrote. “If they have no background in Country / Western or have never owned a pair of cowboy boots, they will!
Barnes said they are planning a soft opening of Flaming Saddles before Thanksgiving, with a grand opening the first week of December.
And why West Hollywood? “Jacqui and I … choose West Hollywood because so many of our customers from our Hells Kitchen NYC saloon are from West Hollywood and insisted we come west,” Barnes said. “We fell in love with the 8811 location three years ago on a visit from New York and have pursued it ever since. It’s a big beautiful barn made for a down home Country hoe down.
“We moved into the neighborhood three months ago, and we could not be more excited about being here and becoming a vibrant part of the community,” Barnes added. “Yippy ki yay ya’ll!”