Its name may recall an old-school Hell’s Kitchen Irish bar, but the new Frankie’s Pub — which opened last night on 10th Avenue just in time for PRIDE weekend — plans to marry the neighborhood’s past and present with a vibrant, tchotchke-filled space decked out to conjure a friendly and eclectic LGBTQIA+ living room where “everybody knows your name.” 

Frankie at Frankies pub
Nightlife veteran Frankie Sharp is putting his own spin on the space at Thirst. Photo: Naty Caez

The new venue opened last night at 692 10th Avenue (between W48/49th Street) and slid into the shuttered Thirst club, owned and operated by Michael McGrail, Franco DeLuzio, Facundo Rodriguez of Chelsea’s popular REBAR. Thirst’s rebranding means that Frankie’s Pub joins FLEX on W51st Street as Hell’s Kitchen PRIDE newcomers for 2023.

Hell’s Kitchen resident, Frankie’s creative director and bar namesake Frankie Sharp — a nightlife veteran who has been in the business since he moved from San Francisco to New York in 2009 — already had a long working relationship with the partners when they approached him about transforming Thirst into a new concept. “When all the bars opened back up at full tilt, it was very challenging,” Frankie told W42ST as we took a tour of the space. “They came to me about three or four months ago and told me that Thirst was about to close and they didn’t want the employees to lose their jobs,” he said. “They asked if I’d be their creative director, we began renovations nine weeks ago, and here we are!” 

Frankie quickly got to work reinventing Thirst’s intimate bar and dance floor space with a new stage for performances as well as a plethora of personal collectibles sourced from his own home, along with independent-artist-created pieces like the bar’s sassy beer signs, Streisand and Sondheim basketball jerseys (available for purchase) and a Cheers-esque welcome sign reading “Queers”. “We want it to be our own gay Cheers,” explained Frankie as we marveled at details like an original Studio 54 ticket and crystal ball basketball hoop behind the bar, as well as tarot-card posters (“I read tarot,” said Frankie) and toy swords in the backroom lounge.

“Coming from the Q and having a four-floor club, Frankie’s Pub is a small bar — but ‘Frankified'” Sharp told the THOTLIGHT podcast. “Imagine what Tarantino would do to a gay bar — or The Cock meets the Carlyle!” He told us: “The decor speaks to this being my second home, and I want people to feel like it’s their home-away-from-home too. It’s a public house for everybody.” 

An emphasis on a welcoming, inclusive environment is key, said Frankie, who previously worked as the Creative and Program Director at now-closed The Q nightclub before leaving in 2022. He filed a lawsuit against co-owners Alan Picus and Bob Fluet amid charges of an unlawful dismissal when he contested managerial practices of discrimination and alleged lax rules around illegal substances by Picus and managing staff. The litigation is still ongoing.

“I think if there’s anything that is positive that happened with my experience at The Q, it was that a conversation on diversity and nightlife, specifically in Hell’s Kitchen, happened independent of me,” Frankie told us. “My New York is always Black, brown, white, masc, trans, non-binary — because that’s just my circle of friends. It never was a conscious move to be like, ‘I need to make this place diverse’ — New York is ever-evolving and ever-changing, and I think my innate, diverse New York is becoming the mold,” he added. The staff is a combination of Thirst employees and brand-new folks, he said. “We’ve been able to create our own little family. I’ve always been obsessed with the Warhol Factory and the idea of a family of misfits, and we’re already building that here.” 

Frankie's Pub
Svetlana Stoli (right) welcoming guests at the soft opening of Frankie’s Pub on 10th Avenue. Photo: Graig Linn
Frankie's Pub
Frankie’s Pub is now in the space formerly named Thirst on 10th Avenue. Photo Graig Linn
Frankie's Pub
Soft opening night at Frankie’s Pub on 10th Avenue. Photo: Catie Savage
Frankie's Pub
Frankie Sharp was busy DJing on the soft launch evening at Frankie’s Pub. Photo: Catie Savage

Hell’s Kitchen’s own family of misfits has already risen to the occasion, Frankie added, and neighborhood residents have been reaching out in anticipation of the bar’s opening week. “The reception has been really nice,” said Frankie. “I think that post-Q everyone was very supportive of what was happening there — and people got a taste of what I was able to do creatively. We were all heartbroken that we couldn’t continue it.” 

Now, he’s looking forward to bringing a robust slate of programming to the pub, with frequently rotating music styles and ambiances for every bargoer. “We’ll start with a piano onstage and go from there,” said Frankie, adding that he hoped to bring Marie’s Crisis-style singalongs to 10th Avenue as much as DJ-led dancing sets. “We’re gonna lean into jazz and Broadway and rock and 60s pop — lighter music for daytime, and when we get into the night, it’ll be a little more disco and a little more dancing,” said Frankie. “I think what I’ve been pretty good at in my career is being able to be cross-genre, cross-generational and cross-demographic. We have something for everyone!” 

Frankie at Frankies Pub
Frankie at the pub. Photo: Naty Caez

More than anything, he looks forward to creating a lively LGBTQIA+ pub that encompasses old and new Hell’s Kitchen. “This is my chance to like, scoop that out and give everyone that all-encompassing, old-school-versus-new-school New York that I love myself,“ said Frankie. “The REBAR and Thirst owners have given me such a great opportunity to do things creatively where they really fully trust me,” he added. “I can’t express enough how grateful I am for that. Whether I want to put on a show or hire a DJ or hire the staff, but I was able to because they trust me and I trust them — what a gift.“ 

Frankie's Pub
Enrique Crame III and Matt Fox from Fine & Dandy were at the soft opening night for Frankie’s Pub. Photo: Catie Savage
Frankie's Pub
“Hello There”: — neon sight at Frankie’s Pub. Photo: Graig Linn

Frankie’s Pub is open seven nights a week — Sunday to Wednesday 4pm-2am and Thursday to Saturday 4pm-4am at 692 10th Avenue (between W48/49th St). @frankiespubnyc. For more Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ+ venues check out our guide.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *