116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Two weeks after the only remaining LGBTQ bar in Cedar Rapids announced its closure, a buyer has stepped in to preserve Club Basix — the owners of the LGBTQ nightclub Studio 13 in downtown Iowa City.
Jason Zeman and two partners in Corridor Entertainment Group were announced as the new owners of the club at 3916 First Ave. NE. They brought one of four serious, prospective offers, according to outgoing owner Andrew Harrison. A purchase price was not disclosed.
The purchase announcement comes after a flood of support for the bar inundated Harrison, to his own surprise. After 10 years of owning the bar, he will depart from Belle’s Basix — a namesake derived from his former drag name, Pretty Belle — on Feb. 1.
“The outpouring of support and encouragement and understanding made me realize that I had made the right choice for me,” said Harrison in a Facebook post Monday announcing the sale. “There was no need for embarrassment and a sense of failure. Ten years is a good run in this industry.”
Zeman hopes to reopen as Basix, staying true to the original name of the bar first opened in 1997, after renovations and new liquor licensing is approved. The bar will remain an LGBTQ establishment with drag shows, and plans to incorporate other interactive entertainment throughout the week, Zeman said.
Zeman told The Gazette that Corridor Entertainment Group wanted to step up to preserve a venue that has become a staple of the LGBTQ community in Cedar Rapids and offer it a refresh. In addition to Studio 13, the group owns Players Sports Bar & Grill, Joystick Comedy Arcade, Eden and Sanctuary in Iowa City.
The remodel will include new flooring, a new bar area, new interior design and a new kitchen to bring in the capacity for food service to breathe new life into the space.
With the scale of the group’s holdings, Zeman said they are better able to weather economic difficulties that face all bars and restaurants, allowing it to take LGBTQ traditions to the next level and retain the customer base needed for success.
Harrison announced that lagging sales and high expenses had taken a toll, particularly after the pandemic forced the bar to close for months.
“It has to do with the reaction you create. (Patrons) should feel better when they leave than when they came in,” Zeman said. “That’s been a formula of success in all our bars. … For that time you’re with us, you forget the about the time you’re with the (outside) world.”
The new owner has already launched a new website for Basix, which is under development.
Harrison implores Cedar Rapids to support the bar in the future.
“Please keep this institution and beacon of the community open for many years to come,” he said.
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