Times Colonist

New bar moves in at site of for­mer Wil­lie’s Bak­ery

‘Punk chic meets Louis XIV’ at Friends of Dorothy Lounge

- DARRON KLOSTER dkloster@times­colonist.com Infectious Diseases · Health Conditions · British Columbia · Tom Brady · Judy Garland · Kansas · Louis XIV of France · Danielle Panabaker

Rudy To­mazic ad­mits he had se­cond thoughts about open­ing a new bar in the mid­dle of a pan­demic.

But he’s forg­ing ahead with a spirit of op­ti­mism that his Friends of Dorothy Lounge — an up­scale es­tab­lish­ment cater­ing to both LGBTQ2 and straight pa­trons — is “wanted and will be wel­comed” in down­town Vic­to­ria.

To­mazic is re­mod­elling the for­mer Wil­lie’s Bak­ery lo­ca­tion at 537 John­son St., repli­cat­ing his Friends of Dorothy Lounge in Kelowna. The her­itage-style build­ing, which housed B.C.’s long­est run­ning bak­ery for more than 115 years be­fore it closed in 2018, was most re­cently a Tree Restau­rant lo­ca­tion, but that, too, closed this year.

“I might be crazy to do this in the mid­dle of the pan­demic, but the ad­van­tage is we’re build­ing it with COVID safety features in mind,” To­mazic said Fri­day. “When this pan­demic is all over, we’ll be es­tab­lished.” The venue is set to open on Dec. 15.

To­mazic calls the Friends of Dorothy Lounge a queer space with an in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ment, of­fer­ing ev­ery­thing from ca­sual cock­tails to “dra­matic drag brunch.”

As for the name, To­mazic said, his­tor­i­cally, the term “friend of Dorothy” was a eu­phemistic way to “out” one­self with­out fear of vi­o­lence or dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Ref­er­ences to The Wiz­ard of Oz and gay icon Judy Gar­land pop up in cock­tail names such as No Place Like Home, Lions Tigers and Bears, Wicked Witch, I’m Melt­ing, Oh My and Not in Kansas.

The goal is for a “vis­ually stun­ning space,” To­mazic said. “We’re de­scribed as punk chic meets Louis XIV,” he said. “We main­tained the el­e­gant look we’re known for, but in a way that com­ple­ments our his­toric 140-year-old Vic­to­ria build­ing.

“We wanted to keep the ar­chi­tec­tural features of 14-foot ceil­ings and ex­posed brick­work to make the in­te­rior feel unique, with lots of brass, warm colours and jewel tones. It’s cosy, up­scale and retro all at once.”

The state­ment piece is a twome­tre chan­de­lier in the cen­tre of the room.

To­mazic said he’s in­vest­ing be­tween $250,000 and $300,00 in the build­ing. Ca­pac­ity is for 110 pa­trons, in­clud­ing the out­door cov­ered pa­tio, but it will ini­tially be de­signed for 80 to ac­com­mo­date so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

The lounge plans to of­fer drag per­for­mances with lo­cal tal­ent, live mu­sic, com­edy shows and live-stream­ing events in ac­cor­dance with pro­vin­cial health re­quire­ments. “We want this space to be safe and en­joy­able for all,” said To­mazic.

Like its Kelowna coun­ter­part, the new lo­ca­tion will serve cock­tails, lo­cal draft beers and gourmet bites from 4 to 10 p.m. It will also of­fer daily break­fast and brunch ser­vice from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Un­like the Kelowna lo­ca­tion, which is a 19+ es­tab­lish­ment, Friends of Dorothy Lounge in Vic­to­ria is able to wel­come peo­ple of all ages due to dif­fer­ent li­cens­ing.

“We’re ex­cited that fam­i­lies will be able to join us in Vic­to­ria,” said To­mazic. “Par­ents are more en­gaged with their chil­dren now about queer­ness and we hope fam­i­lies of all types will join us to dine and for the live en­ter­tain­ment.”

Vic­to­ria is al­ready home to the Vi­cious Poo­dle and Pa­parazzi Night Club, both on John­son Street, but To­mazic said the re­gion can sup­port an­other LGBTQ2 es­tab­lish­ment.

He said he’s al­ready feel­ing wel­come in Vic­to­ria, as neigh­bour­ing busi­nesses have been drop­ping by to wish him well.

“It’s hum­bling and re­as­sur­ing to see that dur­ing th­ese dif­fi­cult times,” said To­mazic.

 ??  ?? Owner Rudy To­mazic out­side the new Friends of Dorothy Lounge at 537 John­son St.
Owner Rudy To­mazic out­side the new Friends of Dorothy Lounge at 537 John­son St.

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