On Sunday, news about the return of a longtime Buffalo gay institution, the Underground Niteclub, had Buffalo's LGBT community rejoicing.
Nick Tiede, who owned the bar before it was expelled from its home on Delaware Avenue last month, plans to soon reopen the bar after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reversed its decision to shut it down.
He spoke with The News on Sunday about the bar's importance, the way the community rallied around it, and what's in store for the next iteration of Buffalo's favorite gay dive:
Why do you think HUD reversed their decision?
I cannot speak for HUD but I get the feeling that after news broke and details of the bar and its history came to light, that there were people at HUD who realized it was more than just a bar and that it had a history and longstanding significance to the LGBTQ community.
When it was announced that the Underground was closing, there was a huge public outpouring of love for the place and for you. How did that make you feel?
It definitely helped make a confusing and emotional time a bit easier for a lot of us, myself included. It made me feel very proud and thankful for what we all accomplished at Underground. It was always more than a job and a place of employment for me, and I was thankful to know it was appreciated.
I also felt there was a bit of an LGBT-rights undercurrent to it, that people felt a part of the local LGBT identity was under attack, and I was amazed at how people really came together.
What do you think the Underground's return means for Buffalo's gay community?
I'm not sure what this means to our gay community. I can only say what I think it means. First, I think it's great that we can maintain one of our safe spaces for the LGBT community. Underground gets a diverse crowd so it's a place for people to feel comfortable and call home. I think it's keeping a piece of our history alive, and it's also an opportunity for our community's future.
As you work to reopen the bar, how are you personally feeling about getting back into the routine of running a bar?
This is a hard question to answer. I felt a little blindsided about the closing and am equally a little surprised about [the timing of the reopening announcement].
Due to our closing, a lot has changed. There were definitely costs and losses as a ramification to the original decision. Some staff, for instance, may not come back, as they had to find new jobs. A lot of equipment was liquidated.
I'm thankful that HUD wanted to undo their decision and were really great to work with. I'm very thankful. However, for myself as a business owner this will pose some challenges. In many ways it's like starting all over from scratch, so it's not just stepping back into the old routine at this point. Some elements will be familiar and others still need ironing out. It's like if someone breaks a vase, you can try to glue it back together, but is it really the same?
My hope is it ends up better than ever, but it won't be as simple as just picking up where we left off. And there are still a few small details left to be addressed before everything is set in stone.