A positive space on King William, the Steel Lounge has been open for just over two months and is swiftly attracting excited patrons. A special place, the LGBTQ restaurant has done a lot right along the lines of atmosphere, exceptional food (seriously, get the jalapeño poppers. Get everything), and a really lovely set of people running the place.
Another LGBTQ establishment open in Hamilton’s downtown core offers a long-awaited breath of new life to the community. This city needs more places like this. The owner, Emily Groom, hopes the lounge can be a place for everyone from every walk of life.
“That’s the big thing about this place. Everybody’s gravitating towards us,” said Groom.
Groom made the decision to open an LGBTQ space in Hamilton just over two years ago.
“I have a silent partner who, when we talked about it he was just really on board and he was like, yes, let’s go ahead and do it. So we talked about the idea and then literally the next week were looking for a space,” said Groom.
The old Junction Café at the corner of Ferguson and King William was for sale at the time, and a week after seeing the place, Groom and her partner purchased it.
The two-storey building was redone, remade and refurbished with Groom along with some help doing a big chunk of the work. The funky and bright downstairs level is for dining while upstairs there’s a super fly dance space with the walls a luxurious shade of purple and brushed steel window treatments.
It’s important for the establishment to be fully accessible as well, so Groom intends to have a ramp built for the side door in the coming months.
The bar was meant to open earlier than it did, but the processes involved in obtaining the required city permits for such an establishment proved to be bigger obstacles than anticipated.
“It took ten months just to get the building permit,” said Groom.
Two years later though, a lot of hard work is finally paying off in some great ways. As a Hamilton native and a former chair to Hamilton’s Pride committee, Groom’s civic pride and investment in the community is something very special backing the Steel Lounge.
“We’ve moved away from the ‘armpit of Ontario’ sort of thing, which some people still like to think about. But we’ve got all these people from Toronto moving here cause they can see a) the cheap prices and b) the culture we’ve got […] we’re rough and we’re gritty but it’s kind of cool. It’s happening,” said Groom.