A new space for the LGBT+ community will soon open its doors in Victoria.
The Vicious Poodle, a gay pub in downtown Victoria, is set to open early in the new year.
Socrates Diamant, the owner of The Vicious Poodle, has been in the restaurant business for years and ran a couple of gay bars in New York City. Having grown up in Calgary, he made the move back to Canada and to Victoria eight years ago.
Diamant said he took note of the pub culture in Victoria and the love for local draft beers and relaxed settings. He decided to open a space for people to relax, enjoy a drink or have lunch or dinner.
“Victoria is a rapidly growing city with a vibrant queer community and very little infrastructure,” Diamant said. “I think the community here is underserved and we need a little bit more choice…to do something different than a nightclub.”
Drag shows will also be hosted at the pub from time-to-time, according to Diamant who noted that the space will be complementary to Paparazzi Nightclub, an LGBTQ night club in Victoria’s downtown.
In September, Diamant signed a lease for the pub which will be located on Johnson Street between Blanshard and Douglas streets. A Facebook post announcing the soon-to-come space saw 165 comments and over 500 likes from people supporting Diamant’s endeavour. Diamant said seeing the reaction from the public had him “gobsmacked.”
Kelly Legge, director at large and chair of youth initiatives with the Victoria Pride Society, said she thinks the new pub will be a great thing for the queer community.
“Our community is very diverse and we have diverse interests,” Legge said. “We gather in different ways and pubs can be fantastic places to share food and meet one another.”
Having another business that is queer-owned and dedicated to the queer community is important as well, Legge said, noting that it can be a “beacon” for the queer community as a gathering place.
Legge, who is also a member of the drag community in Victoria, said it is exciting to have another spot for people to enjoy shows.
“Drag has historically been showcased in bars and it hasn’t been accessible to everyone who is underage or who don’t go to bars so I love the idea of making queer art accessible,” Legge said.
The Vicious Poodle is currently in the remodelling stage and Diamant is waiting for appropriate approvals like a liquor licence to come through as well. He said he has received offers from several people to help out or be involved and is grateful for the support.
“Opening a business is not for the faint of heart,” Diamant said.
As someone who worked in a queer neighbourhood in New York City at a gay bar, Diamant considered himself lucky to experience being in an environment set up for the queer community.
“Part of my vision is to recreate that experience on a small scale and have a place where not just the community can come in and enjoy it, but to also be an employer,” Diamant said. “The people that work here and come here are going to create the culture of the space…It’ll be unique.”