Launch of Pride DC with 3 major events
After a New Year’s pre-opening, Kiki has become one of the most popular LGBTQ destinations in Washington, D.C.
The two-story bar occupies space vacated by Velvet Lounge and Dodge City on the 900 block of U Street. Both closed during the pandemic. The local is directly adjacent to another gay bar, Dirty Goose.
Owner and gay Keaton Fedak, general manager of Dirty Goose, noticed that these two neighboring bars had gone dark during the pandemic and met the owners of the two buildings, who are cousins. Plans were quickly drawn up to use the two buildings to create a large, interconnected and inclusive space to transform the city’s gay bar landscape.
Fedak called the bar “Kiki” both after himself (it’s a nickname) and for his connection to the LGBTQ community. “The word wasn’t coined by the Scissor Sisters song,” he explains. “It’s been an important concept in the community for decades.”
The first half of Fedak’s vision has already opened up. The ground floor of the 915 U St. building is an open space with bar stools and a color block wall of rainbow panels. A bar is located at the back of a small staircase. This level will feature music, but quieter than the second floor space. There, a DJ booth presides over a large dance floor. Disco lights flood this space; there is also a bar on this level. The elevated dance floor is intended for hosting drag shows.
In the spring, a small patio will open, strung with light garlands. It will have a “backyard aesthetic,” he says, green, bright and relaxing. “It’s a good place to relax on a nice day outside. It may even be reminiscent of the popular Town Danceboutique patio.
The second half, at 917 U St., is still awaiting permits, and Fedak hopes to open that section this summer.
It will connect to the current space via the outdoor patio. This section will look more like a sports bar, given Fedak’s connection to DC’s Gay Flag Football League (he’s a former board member). The bar will host Stonewall Sports and other LGBTQ sports teams, and will be filled with numerous televisions mounted to show various games.
After Cobalt and Town closed, Fedak wanted to make sure Kiki was “an inclusive space, so there’s vibes for everyone,” he says. “It should be a place where the regulars would show up and hang out.” He made sure to recruit staff from different professional and personal backgrounds.
Fedak started working in the restaurant and hospitality industry at age 17 in his hometown of Pennsylvania. After moving to the DC area for work, he continued to work Moonlight as a bartender. Fedak joined Dirty Goose as General Manager in 2019 before starting his Kiki journey.
To supply the bar, Fedak has plenty of spirits to spare. The focus is on vodka offerings, but it ensures that local distilleries take center stage: it offers District Made Vodka and Rye Whisky, as well as Green Hat Gin. The beer game is also a winning strategy: there are more than 25 bottles and cans available, with three beers on tap. Local options are first string, including selections from DC Brau, Right Proper, and Anxo Cider. Finally, the sea bass comes with a house-draught margarita (“it’s a house recipe,” notes Fedak, who uses agave nectar syrup instead of sugar). The 16-ounce margin is still on sale for $10.
While Kiki doesn’t serve food, Fedak is exploring options for a small truck or a stand in the backyard.
Going forward, Kiki will be hosting weekly events. The bar already hosts drag shows during “RuPaul’s Drag Race” viewing parties. Fedak also plans to launch a “cobalt-style underwear contest.” Once COVID cases dwindle, he also wants to resurrect the Sunday parties Cobalt would host with sports teams.
Fedak’s mantra for Kiki is evident in the mural that will occupy the backyard patio – a quote from “Schitt’s Creek”: “I love wine not the label.”