For any new business, there is a lot to be considered when it comes to marketing, strategizing, and bringing in the customers. Sometimes, a balancing act weighs heavy on profit and light on inclusivity. For some, though, the integrity of a mission is so embedded in community that it ultimately brings the customers in droves. Wild Corgi Pub, which just opened their doors less than a year ago, is an example of one of those spots that hits the balance square on the head.
When it came time to developing a unique restaurant and bar that would drive business, co-owners Dusty Jones and Sean Maas came up with a list of names a mile long.
“We had about 350 names, and as we went through them, we kept coming to Wild Corgi,” said Jones. “I’ve got a Corgi; he was just a little under a year old when we purchased the bar, and the Corgi community is so great. They stepped in and really supported us.”
While Wild Corgi Pub is definitely there for the folks who adore their doggies, they are also creating an intentional space for queer folks that doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional “gay” establishment.
“Our goal is to be a place for everybody; we didn’t want to be a gay bar; we didn’t want to be a straight bar,” Jones explained. “I’m not averse to labels, but especially in Capitol Hill, there’s just not a reason for it.”
For Jones and Maas, creating a safe space for queer folks alongside their straight, cis allies is just as important as the food and beverages they serve. They wanted to create an environment where everyone can come in as they are without exclusion of any person or group.
“I am always the token gay guy in my group, and I wanted a place I could go hang out with my friends instead of having to run all over town and go to all these different places,” Jones said. “Creating a safe space for LGBT community in general, but especially the trans and nonbinary community, was really important to me. They don’t have enough safe places to go; there are a handful, but just not enough in the grand scheme of things.”
In creating a space for all, Wild Corgi Pub has a diverse and expansive offering of events each week including Forbidden Bingo Mondays with DJ Rockstar Aaron, Sunday Drag Queen Brunch with LaLa J. Shearz, and a brand new Legendz Drag Cabaret, which blends legacy queer talents with up-and-comers.
In the short 11 months that they have been open, they have used to space to host the afterparty brunch for the Trans Parent Conference of 2019 and have given money to both Murray Middle School and Northfield High School.
“Making sure that we provide back to our community because they give to us is really important to us, the way that things should work ,” Jones said.
Embracing and highlighting diversity is what Jones feels that Wild Corgi Pub has done really well, and was a different approach than the former Marion Street Tavern that called the address 1223 East 13th Avenue home.
Additionally, he said that they are really good at remembering customers, making people feel at home and welcomed in the space.
“If you come in more than twice, there’s a 95 percent chance that I remember your name. We want it to be our own Cheers; you walk in and people know about you as long as you’re willing to share that,” Jones said.
Voted 5280 Magazine’s “Reader’s Choice, Best New Bar” winner in 2019, the business has a lot to boast for in providing just the type of service they advertise. Wild Corgi Pub is the brand-new hot spot in a thriving town, and their Facebook is blowing up with proof.
“The food here was amazing; the drinks were amazing, and the owner was amazing! I can’t wait to go back, one of my new favorite bars!” – Cathie Sandoval
“Dusty is the dude … so much fun, and everyone feels welcome! I was staying an hour, was there five! I met great local patrons and had a wonderful time. Highly recommended” – Diana Hayes Schultz
“Great food and atmosphere. Perfect if you love whiskey, too, with a huge selection available. The staff was very friendly and a good guide to visitors from out of town.” – Stanton Krause
Whiskey, in fact, is one of Jone’s specialty beverage options, as Wild Corgi Pub carries more than a modest 70 bottles in a variety of flavor profile and brand names. In addition to a delicious pour, you can enjoy Jones’ personal choice of delectable entrees, the steak sandwich with cheese curd.
As Wild Corgi Pub wraps up its first trip around the sun, they are looking forward to what 2020 has in store and what more they can do for their community as a whole.
“I would just like to get more involved in our community, which is sometimes cumbersome for me as an owner, operator, bartender, everything else,” Jones admitted. “There’s not really a hat I’m not wearing.”
While Jones may not always have the time or resources to get out into the community to recruit, he and Maas are open to feedback, ideas, and entertaining options in order to expand what they already offer.
“Having people come to me with their wants and being able to express that to me with an open ear, I think it’s really important to me,” he said.
Inclusive, cozy spaces with entertainment, great food, and delightful drinks, what more could one ask for?
Be sure to check out their popular, monthly Drag Brunch, happening this weekend on Sunday, November 3. The all-ages event has no cover, like all of the under- and over-21 events at Wild Corgi Pub.