LGBTQ+ bar arrives in Newcastle
After almost five years of having no dedicated venue in the city, Newcastle is finally home to a queer bar again – and it’s all thanks to the team behind Bernie’s Bar.
Co-founders Grace, Kitt and Patrick were on the hunt for their ‘Goldilocks’ space to bring to life the legacy of Newcastle’s LGBTQ+ bars after doing a deep dive into their history.
“I was looking into Newcastle’s history and I found references to Bernie’s that went all the way back to the 1920s,” Grace said.
What started as Bernie’s Grocer in Hamilton became Bernie’s Wine Bar in the 1950s to 1970s – a space for LGBTQ+ people and allies to hang out.
“When I was looking at this history, I was like ‘This is exactly what we need right now. We need a place called Bernie’s.’ It just came together.”
The trio stumbled upon The Star Hotel. It ticked all the boxes, and even has its own place in Newcastle’s LGBTQ+ history.
“This is the third documented time that The Star has been a queer space. It was one of the first trans bars in Newcastle, in the ’70s it was known as the place to ‘come out’ – you would come here to ‘come out’ to the community,” Grace said.
After plenty of community consultation and people offering their skills to transform the space, Bernie’s Bar has opened to an outpouring of support.
A leafy mural adorns the back wall and naturally, rainbows are dotted throughout the venue. While Bernie’s Bar is a hub of events (think makeup masterclasses, gin and jazz nights, burlesque shows and more), it’s also a place where people can enjoy a colourful, share-style food menu with wild cocktails to match.
Menu highlights include Arancini made with a cheesy chorizo and tomato risotto, gluten-free Barra Fish Cakes with Thai herbs and sweet chilli and Pork Baos with pulled pork, crunchy veg, apple sticks and soy mayo.
Finish your meal off with a dessert like Fairy Bread or House Puddin, which changes up regularly.
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diners don’t have to miss out on all the goodness either, with plenty of options for everyone.
While the team behind Bernie’s Bar want the space to be fun and celebratory, it has another purpose too.
“Historically, queer bars have always occupied a space in the community that’s not just about celebrations. When there are things happening politically, they’re places where you can come to mourn, to support each other, to rally around people,” Grace said.
Bernie’s Bar is hard launching with a massive grand opening party on the 1st of June – the start of Pride Month. Get ready to paint the town rainbow!