Last Forest Park gay bar closed for code violations

Hideaway shuttered, building for sale

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By Jean Lotus


Saying the owner failed to fix more than 40 building code violations inside and out, the village acted last week to close the Hideaway Nightclub, 7301 W. Roosevelt Rd., the only remaining gay/lesbian bar in Forest Park.

Owner George Grivas, of Franklin Park, said he bought the building in 1996.

"I have been working with the gay and lesbian community for more than 30 years," Grivas said. "I loved my customers and I never had any fights — with men or women."

 He formerly owned a second bar, Temptations, in Franklin Park, in the 1980s but that closed down, he said.

Customers on the consumer review website affectionately called the Hideaway a "creepy old-man gay bar" and complained about out-of-order toilets, leaking sinks and called the place a "fire hazard."

The man in charge of Forest Park's Health and Safety Department, Fire Chief Steve Glinke, said the problems at the building made it uninhabitable. He said "three pages of code violations" were discovered in a pre-sale inspection in 2009 (the sale fell through). A field inspection in 2011 uncovered more problems, including bricks crumbling off the outside walls and a canopy that was falling down.

The village began to ticket Grivas for building neglect in 2012-13, Glinke said, but Grivas did not come to hearings or pay fines.

"[Grivas] never showed up in court," Glinke said. "Finally, after we gave him a year to comply, I served him personally and told him the place was not habitable."

"The back of that building looks like hell," Glinke added. "The building's been secured and occupancy has been denied."

Glinke said Grivas' lawyer asked to stay open a couple more weeks to "use up his alcohol supply."

"Of course, we denied that," he added.

Grivas, who said he's been in poor health, said he was, "very disappointed in the village."

He claimed the village did not fix slanting sidewalks that caused flooding in his building's basement. Grivas said some of the code violations were there when he bought the building almost 20 years ago.

"He bought a building he couldn't maintain," Glinke said. "Unfortunately, there are consequences. The village of Forest Park has been more than fair to him."

Grivas tried to sell the bar in 2009 to a colleague, Carl Mark Robinson, on a rent-to-own deal in exchange for a monthly payment of $10,000. That deal fell through after flood damage from the summer of 2010 was not fully cleaned up in a timely manner, according to court documents.

The exchange ended in a lawsuit in circuit court in 2011. An appeal in state court in March 2013 affirmed that Robinson owed Grivas $42,000 for back rent and fees. 

The property is now for sale again, Grivas said.

 "Or if someone wants to rent it, I'm willing to work with them," he said.

Former bartender/manager Tom Howe told the Review in 2013 his customers had formerly traveled between the Hideaway and Velvet Rope in Oak Park, which burned down in an arson fire in 2012. Howe said in November the nearest suburban gay bar was Phoenix Nightclub in Elk Grove Village. A short-lived gay bar in Berwyn closed last year.

Grivas said he was proud to have worked with gays and lesbians for 30 years. Grivas, along Mike Zych, former owner of the now-shuttered Forest Park gay bar the Nutbush, was honored by the Rainbow Spirit Awards in 2000 for "providing an island of safety for suburban lesbigays."

"They knew I was a good guy; they loved me even though I was a straight guy," he said. "I donated a lot of money to the gay community, and I tried to show my appreciation for my customers."

Does Forest Park have a market niche for another gay bar? Forest Park has the second-highest percentage of same-sex households in the state of Illinois, according to a 2013 U.S. Census analysis by the Williams Institute, based at UCLA Law School. Oak Park has the highest percentage of same gender-headed households.

"If a straight man goes into the gay business, he better have respect for gay people and lesbians," Grivas said. "I got to learn alongside my customers and I get along with gay people."

"I'm a sick man, but if I had my health I'd do it all over again," Grivas said.

Email: Twitter: @FP_Review

Reader Comments

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Posted: August 12th, 2014 10:41 AM

Do you know how much or who I could contact to find out. Any information would be greatly appreciated


Posted: August 12th, 2014 10:35 AM

The sub head states it's for sale, Dan.


Posted: August 12th, 2014 10:28 AM

Does anyone know if this building is for sale? If so can you please put me in contact with someone that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Cody from Oak Park  

Posted: June 24th, 2014 3:56 PM

I was sad to learn the bar closed?I understand/agree the reasoning totally (no discrimination, don't play the card). I preferred it to the glitzy glam boystown scene. I hate "commuting" on CTA to Chicago to go drink at a gay bar. The ones I like take about 1 1/2 hour one-way, too long for a twenty-something guy (Phoenix Bar is way too far of a drive, even on highway). I dunno if a gay bar will open in the area?but it would be even better even if one bar had a "gay night".

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: May 11th, 2014 10:59 PM

Was waiting for someone else to respond to this clown before I weighed in. What reckless accusations by Ralphie Boy. Foul play? Corruption? Based on what facts, Mr. Vendegna? Care to share? Or are you just, as I suspect, another blowhard Ignorati spewing unsubstantiated dreck on this comments section?

Daniel Jones from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 11th, 2014 10:40 PM

With all due respect, Mr. Vendegna, I believe Chief Glinke has worked hard to give Mr. Grivas the benefit of the doubt since he (Glinke) took over the Building Dept. a few years back. You can lead a horse to water.....

Ralph Vendegna from Countryside  

Posted: May 11th, 2014 8:35 PM

There is Foul Play in the Forest Park Code Division. They close it down for violations, then they allow it to reopen after the flood.. Now close it again for violations. There is just too much hanky panky in the Code Department.


Posted: April 26th, 2014 11:51 PM

@Really from FP: So we gay people go to a for profit bar and pay our earned money for drinks, juke box, darts, etc. Then, because we're 'that way' are supposed to volunteer our time, effort and money to fix the joint? Let me know when I can join you later this Summer as you repair the leaking roof at Ed's Way.

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 26th, 2014 4:07 PM

Ok one more comment, if you take the "Gay" out of this story all this article is about a FP Bar that has lots of code violations and is being shut down with the Owner acknowledging the building is disrepair. Why bring the Gay card into it? Is it not the understanding that we want to treat all people equal and NOT bring up race, gender or sexual orientation? But what do I know I am straight, white and old.

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 26th, 2014 3:48 PM

This is neither a Gay issue, nor a Gay Bar issue, nor a Bar issue or even a VG issue! (had to throw that one in for all my fans... LOL) it is about an unsafe building. The build has code violations plan and simple. The Owner even says it needs a lot of work but he can't do it FP gave chance after chance to fix! People get REAL! Now I would think the G.L.B.T. community would rally around the owner and volunteer time and labor to fix the building. How about it folks put your time and money into it

Carl MArk Robinon  

Posted: April 26th, 2014 2:51 PM

A correction Mr Grivas owes Carl Mark Robinson close to 150 thousand dollars escrow for the bar in which Mr Grivas admits he spent for his own personal needs and did not finish two opportunity's. Currently Mr Grivas has legal action pending against him and his wife for keeping and spending escrow. Per Mr. Grivas's lawyer he lost the building in Jan 2014 because he had not paid property taxes for 2009,10,11,12,13. I will be contacting the reporter to give her the real story.

Jeff from Oak Park  

Posted: April 25th, 2014 5:50 PM

The top floor was a death trap. If anything happened downstairs, everyone upstairs would have had no hope because there was no other way out. Shame that in 20 years the owner wouldn't fix anything. But anyone who was a regular knows George and it comes as no surprise. Now the last place in the 'burbs that we can go to is gone, thanks to someone being cheap


Posted: April 25th, 2014 10:50 AM

Also this happened two weeks ago, why is the review just covering this story now???


Posted: April 25th, 2014 10:47 AM

Bottom line is that this place had too many violations and everyone knew it. I think there is a market for a gay bar in the OP/FP area and hopefully someone will open one and if run correctly can make a lot of money. Everyone that visited the Hideaway knew the owner was cheap and was a bad owner. Heres to someone in the area opening another gay bar for the community.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 25th, 2014 7:55 AM

This story is about a building with dozens of long-standing code violations that make it unsafe for habitation. It's not about gayness or the market for gay bars. If someone was to get hurt here because of the condition of the property, people would be all over village officials for not doing their job. They have done their job in this instance. The ball's now in the owner's court.

MattCordTwist from IslandDweller  

Posted: April 25th, 2014 6:18 AM

You sure got that right Yolanda about the the cops and bar fights scenario. I don't feel though that FP Village had personally anything in for the Hideagay

Tim R. from Oak Park  

Posted: April 25th, 2014 4:28 AM

@Blant: While times have changed, and there are more partnered gay households in Forest Park and Oak Park, there is still a niche in the western suburbs for this type of business! Especially when they welcome "Gay" couples out for a night out, straight people(with or with-out their gay or straight friends), and anybody else that walks in the door! No one is judged! Halsted is a long way away! Stay local and call a cab!

Colin Reed from Forest Park  

Posted: April 24th, 2014 11:57 PM

@Blant: Been going there for years and half the people I met there were coupled. ALL GLBT folks single or otherwise appreciate having a place of their own regardless of their ability and/or need to "hook up".

Another one bites the dust from Forest Park  

Posted: April 24th, 2014 11:43 PM

In towns that have video gaming you would have multiple businessmen trying to reopen/redevelop every vacant space. These towns are able to pick & choose what kind of food/beverage place will emerge. Maybe our mayor should look at George' s tax return. Look at the Hideaway. Shuttered businesses are how you tell you left Berwyn and entered Forest Park.

Yolanda from Brookfield  

Posted: April 24th, 2014 6:38 PM

Plus the music was great, and the fashionable things the patrons wore made it great for people watching. I bet there less need for the Forest Park cops to go in to break up a fight unlike other "straight" bars in the area.

Yolanda from Brookfield, IL  

Posted: April 24th, 2014 6:32 PM

I disagree. A lot of gay and lesbian couples like to unwind at bar for a drink or to just unwind without the discomfort they would experience in a "straight" bar. Can a lesbian or gay couple go to a straight bar and hold hands or give a peck on the cheek to their partner without being harassed. Older couples have outgrown the halsted street meat market. I'm very saddened by the news. I liked going there. Men wouldn't hassel you if you are a woman, and the women knew how to accept a firm "No.

Blant Cosher from Oak Park  

Posted: April 24th, 2014 5:51 PM

Aren't gay bars frequented by single gay people? If so, the large proportion of same sex households may not say much. People who have formed households may not be terribly interested in the bar scene. They need to wake up and not be hung over and work hard all day to pay the insane Oak Park property taxes. Grown up gay people probably want a cozy and neighborhoody place to drink, not the blaring disco beats in the wee hours of North Halsted street. In short, there may not be a niche here.

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