WILKES-BARRE — Less than a month after one LGBT-friendly bar closed in Plains Township, another is being prepared to open near King’s College in August.
Joe Hetsko, of Dunmore, said he plans to open Heat at 69 N. Main St. — the site of the former El Rincon Mexican restaurant on the corner of Union Street — on Aug. 1. He is leasing the building from local promoter/entrepreneur Thom Greco.
“Owning a bar is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Hetsko, 26, said. “This opportunity, it all just came together now.”
Hetsko, who has been working in hospitality marketing, said he used to work at Twist a few years ago. Owned by George DuMont and Jonathan Grimes, Twist was the LGBT-friendly bar at Fox Hill Plaza in Plains Township that closed in June when the plaza was sold.
“With them closing, it was interesting to read how much the place meant to so very many people. To open a place and carry on and keep things going for the community” is what Hetsko said he wants to do. “I have the utmost respect for George and Jonathan. I’m just looking to continue on something for the community.”
But Hetsko is quick to point out that the bar will not cater only to members of the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community.
“The one thing about my bar is that it’s going to be very diverse. I’m a big Pittsburgh Pirates fan. There’s going to be sports on TV, there’ll be a DJ. It’ll be a place where everybody can just hang out, a meeting place where people can relax, have a beer and enjoy it,” Hetsko said.
Hetsko said he’s not focused on having “a gay bar. It’s for everyone in the community. It’s not going to be pigeonholed because there’s going to be so many different things going on.”
Hetsko said he chose the venue for a few reasons.
“It’s right near King’s College and Wilkes University and it’s in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Being a board member of the Diamond City Partnership, I’m here for downtown Wilkes-Barre and I want to see it thrive. And also, it’s move-in ready. I can go in, clean up, get it the way I want and it’s open on Aug. 1,” Hetsko said.
The Diamond City Partnership is Wilkes-Barre’s public-private alliance for downtown revitalization.
Hetsko said the bar will initially be open from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. There will be a Grand Opening Party on Aug. 8 leading in to PrideFest Weekend, which culminates with a festival at Kirby Park on Aug. 10.