Alibi Lounge, a Harlem gay bar already pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic, is facing even more hardship after someone broke into the place shortly before noon on July 28, damaged the door, and stole all cash out of the register.
“By the time I got there, the front door was busted open,” the bar’s owner, Alexi Minko, told Gay City News in an interview on July 29.
It’s the latest setback for a bar that has endured multiple attacks in the four years since Minko first opened the doors with the goal of filling the void of gay bars and Black-owned spaces in Harlem.
The bar was previously broken into several months ago and was vandalized on multiple occasions last year when a person kept setting Rainbow Flags on fire. The bar was also forced to turn to GoFundMe to stay afloat during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic when establishments across the city were shuttered.
Whoever hit the bar was met with alarms that are automatically triggered upon forced entry. Minko said he lives just seven minutes away from the bar, which is located at 2376 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Boulevard, and arrived shortly after he was notified of the break-in.
“I called 911 when I got there, but I had to sit down for about five minutes,” a frustrated Minko said. “Because, really? Once again, why?”
Now Minko and the team at Alibi, already relegated to reduced capacity due to the pandemic, have been forced to close the bar until the police complete their investigation. Minko hopes he can re-open by July 30.
Minko has a theory about who the perpetrator is, but he is not certain. He wonders whether the increased attention on the bar dating back to the flag burnings last year is a factor in the pair of burglaries during recent months.
“God knows how much it’s going to cost,” Minko said of the damaged door, which was already re-fitted with plexiglass after the last burglary. “It will be a huge cost for us.”
Citing the ongoing investigation, Minko opted not to share the total amount of cash that was stolen from the register, but he said it was “cleaned out.”
Minko said he is extremely thankful for the community support that the bar has received, including through generous donations, during the coronavirus era — and things were looking up for awhile.
“I was really happy this past weekend,” Minko said. “We beat the rain a few times, so I couldn’t complain, and I was hoping we would just keep the momentum going.”
But now all that is temporarily in flux while the bar prepares to lose out on much-needed revenue while the investigation plays out.
“Hopefully by tomorrow we’re open,” he said. “Otherwise it’s a huge burden.”
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