The Medical District Tavern Is Under Fire After Audio Surfaces And Reveals Owners’ Homophobic Stance On The Bar’s Recently LGBTQ-Heavy Clientele.
Redfield’s Tavern opened its doors in Dallas’ Medical District in March 2019, with the goal — according to its own websites — of becoming “the go-to place for all residents, employees and guests of this important neighborhood in the City of Dallas.”
Just over a year after opening, though, the bar seems to be having serious difficulty with the definition of “all.”
Following up on social media rumors earlier in the day, the Dallas Voice on Wednesday night secured and shared an audio recording of Redfield’s Tavern co-owner Joe Tillotson in which he can be heard discussing the bar’s recent spikes in business and the hiring of LGBTQ+ waitstaff to keep up with those increases.
“We are not trying to be a gay bar to keep our business up,” Tillotson can be clearly heard saying at one point in the audio.
Tillotson’s displeasure apparently stems from the fact that Redfield’s Tavern and its large, open-air patio space had become a destination for refugees of the historically gay-friendly Cedar Springs strip in recent months with many traditional hubs for LGBTQ+ nightlife had been forced closed as a result of pandemic-related government mandates.
With these crowds searching for a new place of inclusion, Redfield’s Tavern seemed a fitting option — mainly due to its proximity to the Oak Lawn neighborhood that has traditionally served as this community’s home base.
Now that Tillotson’s statements have been made public, many in the community feel rightly angered — and duped for having spent their money at Redfield’s Tavern in the first place.
We spoke to one member of the LGBTQ+ community and former Redfield’s Tavern regular, Dallas Law, about their thoughts on the recent comments.
“It’s really disappointing and disheartening,” says Dallas Law, who counts himself as a member of the local LGBTQ+ community and who had, in recent months, become something of a regular at Redfield’s. “And not just from a sense that in we are in 2020 and these things exist. It’s even more so this was a place where an entire community flocked to, and it felt like it was a safe space. It became a modern-day, neighborhood Cheers for us — an we really had no idea this was the way that ownership felt.”
According to the Voice, at least one now-former general manager at Redfield’s Tavern abruptly quit her position in response to Tillotson’s stance on the new clientele. Whether others follow suit isn’t yet known.
“You would’ve never imagined that’s the way the ownership felt by knowing the servers, bartenders, and general manager,” Law says. Everyone, from the beginning, was so welcoming and inclusive. We made friends with the staff that worked there. It’s really sad to not only think about the members of the LGBT+ community working there, but just those individuals who won’t stand for it — and now they’re without a job.”
In the wake of the Voice‘s release of the recording and the social media fallout that has followed, Redfield’s Tavern has deleted its Facebook page. In response, a new page pretending to represent Redfield’s Tavern has popped up, only to share a link to the Voice article.
Meanwhile, another former Redfield’s Tavern regular named Jose Hurtado has used Facebook to organize an event called “Redfield’s Tavern Funeral” that’s set to take place at 5 p.m. on Friday, October 23. Per the Facebook event’s own description, Hurtado’s goal is to “get enough gays [to visit Redfield] to where we alone make them at max capacity and then spend $0 on alcohol. Just tip the servers, they always supported us.” At the time of this writing, 177 people have RSVP’d to attend this one last venture to the bar.
After that, former regulars like Law say they’ll happily taken their hard-earned money to establishments that will embrace their support.
“I feel like discouraged and upset that I gave money to them and helped keep them afloat during the pandemic,” Law says. “But if that’s how ownership feels, then we can take our business elsewhere.”