On Monday, June 13, 2016, The Owl’s Head changed up the rules.
Normally closed on Monday evenings, the wine bar flung open its doors. However, the drinks they sold to their patrons that night took on powerful meaning. Less than two days after the 49 deaths of “mostly young, mostly Latino, and mostly gay” victims at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Owl’s Head donated all their earnings that night to Equality Florida.
“We felt we immediately needed to do something,” said owner John Avelluto, who explained the donations went directly to the victims’ families.
“There is more and more violence happening to the LGBTQ community, and this was a way to alleviate mounting tensions,” said Avelluto. He said the bar raised close to $1700 that night.
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After the success of that evening, The Owl’s Head, located at 479 74th Street (just off of 5th Avenue) in Bay Ridge, decided to make Mondays a new tradition — LGBTQ+ Night.
“By adding Mondays and donating a portion of revenues every LGBTQ+ Night to worthy causes, we can make this good feeling last all year long,” said Avelluto.
Now that the wine bar is open seven days a week, Monday nights continue to be an opportunity to fundraise. However, their generosity isn’t limited to one day per week.
The bar celebrated its fifth anniversary on December 23 by raising over $1000 for the It Gets Better Project, a Los Angeles-based organization to support lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual youth.
The organization notes that “in September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry Miller to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.”
The Owl’s Head donations took place in-person and online. “We were humbled by the generosity of our customers and their support of the It Gets Better Project last month,” said Avelluto.
Not only does the bar offer wine, beer, and a menu of “artisanal bites,” the intimate space is extremely active in the community. They regularly host writers, provide free lectures about the neighborhood’s forgotten history, as well as featuring art exhibits.
Avelluto, a Gravesend native, heads up the 5th Avenue Bay Ridge Storefront Artwalk, which will have its 7th annual event beginning May 14.
And the bar will continue its new tradition of fundraising on LGBTQ+ Night. “It’s going to be harder for many non-profits,” he said. “Obstruction is coming.”