Just about every night of the week, after he leaves work and even on his days off, Courtney Love of Harlem says you’ll likely find him at Lambda Lounge laughing with friends.

“My love for Lambda Lounge is honestly surreal,” Love says. “It’s been amazing.”

What You Need To Know

  • Lambda Lounge, located on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd by West 133 St, is owned by Charles Hughes and his husband Ricky Solomon, and is one of the few LGBTQ+ bars in New York City owned and operated by African Americans

  • Despite opening during the pandemic, Lamba Lounges is proving to be popular with Harlem's LGBTQ+ Community and visitors from other boroughs

  • Lamba Lounge was originally conceived to serve as a business venture to increase revenue of the owners' Vodka brand, Lambda Vodka

Charles Hughes, the co-owner, says while he and his husband, Ricky, had no prior experience in the bar or restaurant industry, they do have experience as entrepreneurs.

After the couple created and launched Lambda Vodka about five years ago, to limited success, Hughes admits their initial reason for opening the lounge was to drive up sales of their vodka brand.

“What we didn’t realize was the significance of opening a bar for our community,” said Hughes. “So, the initial goal wasn’t to create something by us, for us, it was to increase sales for another business of ours, but then we sat back and realized, we don’t have this. We became a beacon within our community without even realizing we were doing it. So that’s an awesome feeling.”

Lambda Lounge, located on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd by West 133 St, is one of the few LGBTQ+ bars in New York City owned and operated by African Americans.

Following a soft opening in February of 2020, Lambda Lounge, like every bar in New York, was forced to shut down in mid-March due to the pandemic.

Hughes says when the lounge was finally allowed to reopen last July, after Pride, success was from certain.

“It was a very emotional feel,” says Hughes. “My husband and myself had to constantly reinvent our business structure with COVID rules. With COVID, every week some different rule was coming out."

Some loyal customers, however, who live nearby, including Jonathan McCrory and Courtney Love, believe the emotional stress and social isolation caused by the pandemic has led to the local LGBTQ+ community and its allies being eager to embrace Lambda Lounge so quickly, now that most COVID restrictions have been lifted.

“Lambda gets to be a place where we can exhale,” said McCrory. “That’s why you have a lot of people who come. Because in the midst of a shutdown where everything is basically closed, there were two individuals who were brave enough, courageous enough to invest in the community and to start a business.”

“When I get off work,” Love says, “I’m going to see my friends and have a good cocktail or two and then go home and start the whole day again the next day.”

When NY1 asked Love if Lambda Lounge was his version of TV show “Cheers,” he said. “This is my Cheers!”