The Charitable Side of a Gay Bar

Tabu celebrates its 50th fundraiser next month to fight HIV and AIDS

Photos courtesy of Tabu

When Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar opened last year, it was a welcome changed from the many gay bars in Center City. Not only would the venue focus on sports, but it would become a favorite destination for many special events and fundraisers.

On June 24, Tabu celebrates its 50th fundraiser since opening its doors with RISE, an event designed to raise funds for the fight against HIV and AIDS. To date, thousands of dollars have been raised at the sports bar for a variety of organizations dedicated to everything from health and wellness to literacy, animal care and LGBT charities.

“I’ve seen quite a diverse set of groups partnering with Tabu since its opening just a little more than a year ago,” explains Perry Monestero, director of development and marketing for Mazzoni Center. He says that the free venue is ideal since it allows groups to enjoy a night out in the neighborhood for a good cause. Tabu also has a cozy relationship with Absolut that allows for discount drinks during many of these special events.

The bar, which is owned by Jeff and Steven Sotland, and managed by Freddy Shelley, opened in March of last year.

“We wanted to make sure the community knew we were going to support them from the very beginning,” says Shelley. “In addition to sponsoring a number of local sports leagues, we made a conscious decision to give back to the community in a way that’s not intrusive to our customers. Our customers can still get inexpensive prices and feel good that a portion of what they drink or eat is going toward a good cause.”

Wayne Knaub, an organizer with the Greater Philadelphia Flag Football League (GPFFL), hosts a monthly fundraiser at Tabu called Jocks.

“I approached Jeff Sotland to partner with us on an idea I had for Jocks, which was similar to a party I used to promote in New York City,” says Knaub, who admits that the event’s attracted almost 200 people on its best nights, which has included a spring fashion show and other highlights to generate money and buzz for the LGBT-friendly league.

Rich Rubin of Quince Productions has also worked with Tabu for special events. “Tabu not only raised money for the company, but made a whole new group of potential audience members aware of our existence and has enabled us to reach a crowd that might otherwise not know about our organization,” he says.

As Shelley gets ready for RISE next month, he considers issues that are important to patrons in the Gayborhood. “Certainly there are going to be causes that bear a significant weight for our customers and for us personally as well,” he says. “I continue to be optimistic that every time we open up our doors, we’re making a difference to the neighborhood around us. I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and glad the neighborhood has been so supportive of us to be able to do these things for the community.”