by Nancy Stiles
Novak's (4121 Manchester Avenue, 314-531-3699) closed its doors on June 30 for summer remodeling under new ownership. In a surprise move, they decided to open back up two days later instead. The fate of the Grove mainstay was up in the air after founder Nancy Novak announced her retirement earlier this year, but Novak's won't miss any summer fun.
Expect the same dance floor fun that made Novak's a hub of LGBT and straight nightlife. Nancy Novak will remain connected to the business as "consultant emeritus," and manager Kelly Washam, who's been at Novak's since 2004, is also staying on. Novak's new owner is Steven Preston Kootman of Preston Salon, which has counted Mark McGuire and Marshall Faulk as clients.
"We have an excellent staff that is eager to welcome our patrons back and I look forward to continuing the tradition where St. Louisans from all walks of life can come together," Kootman said in a press release.
Continue for the details on the Novak's remodel.
Novak's, which opened in 1996, has long been known for its open mic nights, karaoke, and of course, the drag show -- queens and kings. Riverfront Times named it Best 3 a.m. Bar (2010), Best Lesbian Bar (2001-2002, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011), and even Best Gay Bar on last year's list. Business resumed July 3.
Grayling Holmes, head of marketing for Novak's, tells Gut Check that Novak's will remodel in sections in order to remain open during construction -- it has 5,000 square feet of space inside and 2,000 square feet outside, so the new owners saw no reason to close completely. Patrons can enjoy the usual events this summer and a few new ones, too. Check the calendar at www.novaksbar.com or call 314-531-3699 for up-to-date information on specials, events, and shows.
"Periodically, we're going to add new things and see if the crowds keep coming. That's always been our way of doing business. If it's cutting edge, if it's new, we do it," Holmes says. "That's exactly how Nancy ran the bar."