Highland Lounge, a new bar billed as "Austin's premiere gay lounge and dance club," is officially open for business.
Located in the Warehouse District, Highland features the creative cocktails and craft brews we all know and love, but seeks to elevate the level of hospitality its clientele receives. "Highland is a contemporary nod to attitudes toward the LGBTQ community in the year 2014," Highland's Chief Experience Officer Robert Grunnah tells CultureMap.
"We felt it was time a classy, sophisticated cocktail-driven lounge and DJ-driven dance club [should] be geared toward the gay community, but at the same time welcome straight people with open arms."
With a clean, contemporary design and an atmosphere that feels more like a lounge than a dance club, Highland hopes to build its reputation on offering seamless service. "[We want our customers to] be treated with the type of authentic hospitality and service you might typically find at some of the area's higher-end restaurants," said Grunnah. (On a totally superficial note, that service comes courtesy of a pretty dreamy staff.)
But just because it looks swanky doesn't mean Highland Lounge doesn't boogie down. The new bar hosts nightly dance parties with rotating DJs, "sumptuous shot concoctions," and drink specials including daily happy hours until 10 pm. Led by Beverage Director Joyce Garrison who cut her teeth at the W Austin and was named the Austin Chronicle's Best Mixologist in 2013, Highland's drink menu focuses on creative, fresh housemade cocktails.
More than dancing and drinks, Highland Lounge wants to fill a need for Austin's growing LGBTQ community. "We realized that in a metro area [with a burgeoning gay population], there was a wide swath of LGBTQ customers that weren't being served," says Grunnah. And with that growth comes a shift in attitude. "We aren't blocking off the windows to the street or hiding our identities any longer," he adds.
Instead, the expansive, airy property has proudly taken over a prime piece of downtown real estate. Since opening its doors in early October, Grunnah says buzz has come quickly both via social media and folks who have come to check out the new space.
While Highland Lounge hopes to be embraced by the local gay community, it wants to become a staple for all Austinites looking for a great cocktail and a good time. Says Grunnah, "We've got something special here."