The Toasted Walnut, Philadelphia’s Only Lesbian Bar, Has Closed

The loss now leaves only 14 lesbian bars nationwide. 

There’s now one less lesbian bar in the country: The Toasted Walnut, Philadelphia’s only lesbian bar, has closed its doors as a result, in part, of the Covid-19 pandemic. 


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“Toasted Walnut was my dream,” owner Denise Cohen, who opened the bar in 2016, told the Billy Penn. “It’s a loss. It’s still numb.”

While the pandemic has made it difficult for Cohen to pay the rent, she also said that her health played a key role in her decision. She was diagnosed with uterine cancer in November, and is going blind as a complication from diabetes. 

The Toasted Walnut staff have organized a GoFundMe page to help Cohen pay for her medical expenses, which has so far raised $15,000 of the $30,000 goal. While the fund is designed to help alleviate her expenses, it’s done little to offset the costs of renting space for the bar, which comes to $11k per month. The landlords have been unwilling to negotiate on rent, the Billy Penn reports, despite having paid off their mortgage in 2018. 

“It’s a disaster right now,” head bartender Drea Young told the publication. “Now it’s at a point where she has to fight. What’s she going to fight for, her bar or her life?” 

Before the Toasted Walnut’s closure, there were 15 lesbian bars left in the country according to the Lesbian Bar Project. The loss now leaves only 14 lesbian bars nationwide. 

Toasted Walnut “provided an inclusive, diverse, fun, and safe environment,” Young writes on the GoFundMe page. “The business was growing, creating regulars who enjoyed the time spent at the establishment.” 

It’s loss will be felt by the Philadelphia community, and by queer women around the country.

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