Cruze Bar is here to stay — but only for a little while longer


Sareen Ali | Staff Photographer

LGBTQ+ Strip District club Cruze Bar postponed its closing due to a delay in the process of the building ownership change.

By Shahum Ajmal, Contributing Editor

Emily Vith and Grey Vojtash were devastated when they heard Cruze Bar was closing. The two lifelong friends have been spending many of their Thursday evenings at the Strip District’s popular LGBTQ+ club since they were 18.

Vith, now 19 and an undecided sophomore at Pitt, and Vojtash, now 20 and a resident of Moon Township, both decided to go to what was supposed to be the bar’s last college night on Thursday. They wanted to pay tribute to the venue that had become an important part of their friendship and their overall social life.

“We wanted to go for one last hoorah. Waiting in line for an hour and making friends is always fun, too, though,” Vojtash said.

But the pair didn’t even make it in. The line stretched far past the entrance of the club at 1600 Smallman St. — past 15th Street, nearly to the entrance of Lidia’s, which is one block down Smallman. Fortunately for them, the two regulars will have a few more chances for “one last hoorah.”

After seven years of service to the Pittsburgh community, the LGBTQ+ club is still closing — but not for another few months. The owners and management of the club received the unlikely news on Thursday afternoon that their stay in the Strip would be extended, though they couldn’t say for how long.

Regulars to the club and members of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ+ community spoke about their sadness on social media about the club’s closing — but also expressed their joy when Cruze’s extended stay was announced.

The co-owner and general manager of Cruze, Greg Campo, could not reveal too much information about the decision. He was able to explain that Cruze’s closure is being delayed because the building the bar is located in is being transferred to a new landlord, a process that is taking longer than expected. When that transition is complete, the building will be torn down.

According to the North Hills resident, the decision was not something the owners of Cruze wanted, but rather something that was made for them. The ability to stay open for a while longer is a gift.

“We found out on Thursday afternoon that we would be able to stay open longer,” Campo said. “After we announced it, the line to get into our weekly college night was backed up to Lidia’s.”

The bar is known — especially on Pitt’s campus — for their 18+ college nights that bring in crowds from colleges in addition to Pitt, such as Point Park, Duquesne and Carnegie Mellon. Although the college nights will continue for a little bit longer, even Campo is unsure when the expiration date will be.

“We’re hoping for two to three months,” he said. “We’re trying to plan a New Year’s Eve party, so let’s hope we can make it to the end of the year.”

In light of the unknown but very definite closure of Cruze, Campo and his fellow owners are taking every opportunity they can to plan fun events for their many loyal patrons. College students can look forward to 18+ events coming up like the College Underwear Party on Saturday night and The Last Splash! The Final Foam Party on Sept. 29.

Campo advises students to get to Cruze early to avoid the inevitable long lines and also to be ready for a fun and safe night.

“We are a safe space at Cruze, not just for the LGBT community, but also for the college community. We have high security here, we don’t take that lightly,” he said. “We offer Pittsburgh’s premier parties for college students with only a $5 cover charge — that’s tough to beat.”

Vith and Vojtash agreed with this idea, sharing their gratitude for Cruze and memories the two have had there.

“There really isn’t another place in Pittsburgh like that for me and my friends to go, so we really wanted to try and get in the last night we would be able to,” Vith said as the two waited in the long line Thursday night.

The club is one of the only 18+ clubs in Pittsburgh that Vith is familiar with. She stressed that Cruze has a welcoming environment and she sees it as a nice contrast to simply hanging out at someone’s house.

“It’ll be disappointing once they close and there isn’t a place to just dance and have a good time,” Vith said.

Vojtash praised Cruze for its accepting atmosphere — one where she and friends of all backgrounds and sexualities can simply have a good time in a safe place.

“Cruze is the perfect fun-loving, carefree environment a lot of college-age students love,” Vojtash said. “It’s technically a gay bar, but I just feel like the majority of the people there want to have a good night, whether they’re gay or not. Because nobody there cares about [those labels].”