Michelle and Ronny Honea took the staff of The Grapevine Bar over to check out the bar’s new location on Butler Street this week, and to celebrate the upcoming move. (Photos courtesy of Michelle and Ronny Honea)

Last year, after some 26 years in the little beige stucco building in the 3900 block of Maple Avenue, Grapevine Bar owners Michelle and Ronny Honea found out their lease was up, and that Crow Holdings had big plans for the property that didn’t include the Grapevine.

The Honeas have been searching ever since for just the right location for the Grapevine to move to — and now they’ve found it.

Michelle and Ronny announced this week that the Grapevine — the perennial Readers Voice Award winner for best straight bar for LGBTQ folks — will be moving soon to 2213 Butler St. in The Medical District.

If that address sounds familiar, it’s probably because that’s where the infamous Redfield’s Neighborhood Tavern was located for a short time back in in 2020, before the straight men who owned the place got caught on tape telling the female general manager to stop hiring so many gay men to work there because Redfield’s wasn’t a gay bar.

It’s pretty clear, given The Grapevine’s welcoming environment and popularity with the LGBTQ community, that it won’t take long for the Honeas and their staff to exorcise the ghosts of homophobes past. In fact, Michelle and Ronny told Dallas Voice this morning (Thursday, May 25), that they will be taking everything that makes the Grapevine the Grapevine with them when they move — from the staff to front door to the bathroom doors with the dragon door handles to the bar top to, yes, the basketball court.

“So many of the places we looked at when we started looking for a new place had the space so we’d be able to have a patio, but not the basketball court,” Michelle said. “And the basketball court is important to us. It’s part of our identity, part of what makes us unique. A whole lot of people are excited to know we can take the basketball court with us when we move. They thought we were going to lose that.

Grapevine Bar owners Michelle and Ronny Honea get ready to check out the bar’s new location on Butler Street. The move will happen sometime this summer.

The Honeas said they have looked a “so many” different locations in searching for The Grapevine’s new home, and “95 percent of them would have required a complete build-out,” Michelle said. “Then this place fell into our laps and just the right time.”

The new location will take The Grapevine from about 650 square feet of indoor space to about 4,800 square feet of indoor space. “That’s a big thing for us. It will give us the chance to do so much more,” Ronny said. “So many times we’ve had parties or other events, and they were always on the patio because there just wasn’t room inside. So if it rained, or if it was too hot or too cold, we just had to cancel. Now, we have the patio, but we also have plenty of space inside, too.”

Michelle said the Butler street location also has some other advantages The Grapevine doesn’t have on Maple. There’s room inside and out for live music at the new location, and the new patio not only has lots of landscaping and trees for atmosphere, “it’s at the back of the building, so you’re not right out there on the street, which happens with a lot of places that open patios.”

She said the fact that the new location is in a more industrial area rather than surrounded by a residential neighborhood is a plus, too, especially when it comes to live music events. “That’s one of the things that has inhibited us where we are now. When you are surrounded by a residential area, you have to be really careful about noise levels and configuring speakers in just the right way. We’ve always tried to be good neighbors, but this will make it easier.”

Michelle continued, “The new place has tons of parking, and it’s just a really good location in general. It already has some address recognition, so we don’t have to start from scratch on that. It’s going to be amazing.”

Michelle said that while the larger new location will require additional staff, the existing staff will definitely be moving with the bar.

“We brought the staff over yesterday to see the new space for the first time, and everyone is really excited,” she said. “They have been great, sticking with us through COVID and having to be closed, and now this move. We have been keeping them in the loop, and they have all been very good at helping keep the new place a secret until we were ready to tell everyone.”
“They have a lot of ideas for the new place, too,” Ronny added.

While the Honeas don’t yet have a specific date set to close down the Maple Avenue location nor a specific date for re-opening on Butler Street, the move will happen this summer.

“We don’t want to give a specific date right now and put unnecessary pressure on ourselves when we don’t have to. We just have so much going on right now,” Ronny said.

There will be a grand closing party at the Maple Avenue space, with enough notice for customers “from back in the day” to come in from out of town, and even out of state, to say good to that space. And of course, there will be a grand opening party in the new space, too.

“We’ll give everybody about a month’s notice, and there will probably be a few days — three days to a week — that both locations are closed so we can do all the last minute stuff we can’t do when we’re open,” Ronny said. “We’re not sure exactly when that will be, but we’re gonna get it done as soon as possible.”

— Tammye Nash