EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

April 17, 2014

Gay, lesbian bar opens downtown

Phoenix room run by owners of popular Chit Chat lounge

HAVERHILL — In recent years it’s become a music mecca for the area. Now, the Chit Chat Lounge on downtown Washington Street is looking to build on its success.

The latest twist in the history of the Chit Chat is the new Phoenix room. Located on the second floor, above the music venue, the rectangular brick-walled room with high open beam ceilings will cater to the region’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.

Chit Chat owners Steve and Debra Doherty said it will be a professionally run lounge featuring a bar, music videos playing on the walls, and possibly live acoustic music and a disc jockey. The room has a capacity of 85 people, the Dohertys said.

They plan to unveil the fully redecorated second-floor lounge with a reception for local officials today from 5 and 8 p.m., followed by a public opening. A more formal grand opening is scheduled for tomorrow.

Steve Doherty said the Schena family opened the Chit Chat in 1959 and in 1970 began offering live music. Doherty and his wife bought the club in 2009 and since then they’ve expanded its role as the area’s premier music venue.

He said the Chit Chat itself on the building’s ground floor will continue to serve as a venue for musicians looking to build a following, as well as those who are already well known in the industry. The upstairs Phoenix will be an entirely separate venue.

“Members of the LGBT community asked that the Chit Chat become more socially diverse,” Debra Doherty said about the idea behind creating the Phoenix.

Steve Doherty said that with a capacity of only 85 people, the Phoenix can be easily monitored by the club’s security staff. He said any problems that arise will be handled quickly.

“We’re not chasing the trouble money,” he said in reference to other clubs that might risk breaking the rules in order to gain the most business revenue. “We want a professional atmosphere and no trouble.”

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