did anyone else know that The Full Moon Saloon in Orlando closed??
Here's the article from Watermarkonline.com
Full Moon's Sudden Closure a Mystery to Many
by Kirk Hartlage
Many believe that when the moon is full, people are more likely to act oddly without reason. Perhaps operating a bar that celebrated that particular lunar phase led its owner to consistently act without reason—and explanation.
With no announcement, not even to his employees, Full Moon Saloon owner Bob Graves pulled up stakes on the popular men’s bar, closing its doors last Monday. The abrupt closing left the area’s Levi’s, leather, Western and bear communities without a nightspot to call their own, and uninformed Bear Bust organizers were left without one of their primary venue spaces.
Gregory Adams, an associate of Graves contacted at the bar the day following the closing, said that after 20 years in the business, Graves decided it was time to move on and retired. Attempts to reach Graves for comment were unsuccessful, though Adams said that even if Graves were to talk officially about the closing, rumors would still run rampant.
But with no warning from Graves to his employees or to Bears of Central Florida officials—who not only utilized the bar for their monthly meetings but also for October’s annual Bear Bust, one of the oldest and largest bear events in the country—the local rumor mill had already spun into overdrive.
Few people contacted by Watermark were willing to go on the record about the closing or about Graves himself. The Full Moon owner had developed a reputation for burning bridges and creating tension with employees and various businesses, but none more so than next-door-neighbor, The Parliament House.
Indeed, most of the rumors circulating about the Full Moon’s demise have centered on the Parliament House Resort. Its owner, Don Granatstein, acknowledged that he has been interested in purchasing the site for several months. Orange County records show the property is owned by the Helen Beam Trust in Jacksonville.
“We’ve never been close to a deal,” said Granatstein. “We put in an offer a long time ago, and the last we heard was, ‘We’ll get back to you.’ I’d like to think we’ll reach an agreement, but that’s still far away.”
Business at the Full Moon had dropped off considerably in recent years. While some of that could be attributed to a national downturn in the club industry, the cause was likely a near elimination of available parking in the area. Though the decrease in parking space was initially due to construction work on the Gardens timeshare resort, it appears as though it was Graves himself who may have been the cause of the Full Moon’s undoing.
Accustomed to parking in the old Carolina Moon trailer park, patrons of both the Full Moon and the Parliament House were forced to find alternate parking when excavation for the Gardens timeshares began on that site. Many Moon customers found spots across North Orange Blossom Trail in a lot owned but unused by the Parliament House, but later, Gardens’ construction crews began using that lot improperly as a dumping ground. City code-enforcement officials were notified, and the Parliament House was fined several thousand dollars. Granatstein decided to fence off the lot, opening it only for special events at the resort.
Many believe it was Graves who called the city, upset that Full Moon customers seeking parking were again being displaced.
As recently as last weekend, parking remained an issue. Last Friday, cars parked directly in front of the Full Moon were towed; those towed were reportedly told that the bar’s owner called to have their cars removed.
Aware that parking during Gay Days Weekend this year would be an issue even with the fenced-off lot open, Granatstein rented additional parking at the Citrus Bowl and ran free shuttles between the lots and his resort. Granatstein offered the shuttles to Graves for his customers—asking only that Graves put up signs about the service—but the Full Moon owner declined.
“Anything I ever suggested, even the idea of us throwing parties together, Bob was totally unreasonable,” said Granatstein. “I always tried to make things nice for the community overall, but the answer was always no.”
Full Moon employees who showed up to work last Monday found the doors locked, with a sign stating that the bar was closed due to issues with the air conditioning. Many found that odd since one of the bar’s more noteworthy features was its expansive outdoor patio. That night, Graves allegedly hired two crews to take everything out of the bar, which has led some to believe that he may attempt to reopen elsewhere.
Though the initial shock has worn off, several of those associated with the Moon have said they can now see the signs that the bar was about to close. Several bartenders recently noticed a change in how Graves was managing the bar—not ordering full stocks of liquor and turning off coolers, claiming they were in need of repair.
Those who do know the full reasoning behind the closing will say only that it is Grave’s issue—and his alone—to discuss.
“We were prepared, but we were not given notice,” said BOCF president Brett Lickteig. “The news hit us by surprise, but only because of the way it went out.” The local bear club has used the bar as a meeting spot for many years and was left homeless with the sudden closing. The group found a temporary meeting location at the Center this past Sunday but is seeking new locations for August and beyond.
“I understand why he closed, so we’re not harboring any ill feelings toward Bob,” said Bear Bust chairman Virgil Rice. “We have three months to make changes for the event.” In recent years, Bear Bust’s focus has shifted toward its varying host hotels, though several of the October weekend’s events have remained at the Full Moon. Graves reportedly balked at allowing other local bars to participate in Bear Busts; with the Moon’s closing, the 16-year-old ursine event will most likely be able to expand throughout the community.
“I think we’ll definitely have some growing pains, but overall I think the event will benefit,” said Rice.
Though negotiations are still under way, it appears as though Bear Bust will move to the Parliament House Resort, at least for this year.
“We’d love to have them,” said the resort’s Granatstein, who doesn’t expect to have any deal to purchase the Full Moon finalized in time for the October event, if it goes through at all. But if his bid is successful, Granatstein has pledged to keep the bar’s masculine theme intact, projecting that the only changes made will be in the areas of maintenance, upkeep and management.