Updated: Jan 25, 2021
By Giulia Heyward and Melissa Gray, CNN
The consequences for the community could be devastating
(CNN)Alexi Minko's bar is so much more than just a place to get a drink.
When he opened the Alibi Lounge in 2016, it quickly became a permanent fixture for LGBTQ life in Harlem. Not only is it the first LGBTQ bar in the neighborhood, but Minko is one of just a few Black gay bar owners in the entire tri-state area. And it has remained open almost every day since it opened.
But like other small businesses across the United States, Minko's bar was hit hard by the pandemic. He's had to shut the bar for months, and even had to get rid of its food menu at one point -- a significant cut into profits -- based on state quarantine orders. And though the Alibi Lounge has reopened, it's operating on reduced hours and with only 25% capacity indoors.
"Our revenue's gone down," Minko told CNN. "I've talked to other small business owners, and some of them have just decided to quit."
But Minko said closing his bar isn't an option. He said the Alibi means a lot to the LGBTQ community in his neighborhood and he's committed to making sure it can survive the pandemic. A GoFundMe to help keep the bar afloat has already raised more than $169,000 -- and it's received additional funding, and been recognized nationally, by The Human Rights Campaign. But that still doesn't mean it's all been smooth sailing.