Community rallies to save NJ’s longest-running gay nightclub

New Jersey’s longest-running gay nightclub, Club Feathers, may soon be forced to close for good, in what would be yet another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We cannot sustain with very, very little income and when I tell you what we bring in a day, sometimes cover just the daily cost,” owner Paul Binetti told Fox5.

The club, in River Edge, has been a staple of the Tristate area’s LGBTQ community since 1978, providing a safe haven for many at a time in the 1970s and 1980s when being gay was not widely accepted.

“People used to scream things out the window as they were driving by, they used to throw things at the place,” said manager Eddie Kallen, who started as a busboy 39 years ago. “it was not that well accepted, now it’s a different story.”

Said Binetti, “I know people who have met here in the 70s and 80s and are still married today, and they keep saying it was because of Feathers that I have a life now. It made people who they are now.”

Because of the pandemic, the nightclub has reinvented itself as an outdoor restaurant. But as our cameras rolled midafternoon on a Saturday, not a single customer was there. That’s despite the club hiring an accomplished chef from a nearby Italian restaurant.

Typically the nightclub would welcome about 1,000 to 1,500 customers a week, but now they serve maybe 100 customers a week at best.

Binetti started a GoFundMe page, calling on supporters to help Feathers survive. The money would go towards paying off four months of rent, taxes and electric bills that accumulated while the club was closed. As of Saturday, the page has raised nearly $50,000 of the $75,000 goal.

Said Kallen, “I would just be very sad for all the people that would never probably have a place like this to go again.

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