Arlington, VA

Barstool Sports’ COVID-19 relief fund is helping keep long-time Crystal City hangout Freddie’s Beach Bar and Restaurant afloat.

The LGBTQ-friendly bar at 555 23rd Street S., known for its Sunday brunches and drag queen shows, is one of nearly 40 businesses so far to receive relief from the jocular online media company. The fund has raised more than $9 million from about 78,000 supporters since Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy officially launched it on Dec. 17.

“Dave, you are a godsend,” co-owner Rich Lutz told Portnoy in a FaceTime call today (Tuesday). “This is really, really special to see your face in my kitchen right now.”

Portnoy appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show last week to talk about The Barstool Fund, which is how Lutz says he learned about the program. Staff “scrambled” to put together a video telling the bar’s story, he told Barstool in an email.

Since opening in March 2001, Freddie’s continues to be Northern Virginia’s only gay bar, co-owner Freddie Lutz told the Barstool Fund in his funding pitch. The community gathering spot is known as a safe space for gay military personnel and also attracts families for post-church Sunday brunch.

“I don’t know of any bar that is more diverse and welcoming than Freddie’s,” he said.

The brothers keep the restaurant open every holiday to ensure everyone has “a family meal,” and they host a yearly toy drive.

So far, the brothers have managed to keep the lights on and its 25 employees on payroll. At one point, Amazon purchased 1,753 meals from the restaurant, which were donated to Virginia Hospital Center. Rather than try to fill the entire order himself, Freddie spread it out to a dozen nearby restaurants — an act that “breathed life, energy, and activity into the independent restaurants that make up the core of 23rd Street.”

Still, Freddie’s was recently on the brink of closure.

“Like so many others, Freddie’s is struggling and on the verge of shutting down,” Freddie told Barstool.

During his call with Rich, Portnoy praised the bar and restaurant’s story.

“It was a no-brainer,” he said. “We saw the video and we knew instantly that we wanted to help.”

Rich could not thank the Barstool Sports founder and media personality enough.

“With all the terrible things going on in the world right now, having a breath of fresh air like you is just absolutely wonderful,” he said. “I only hope that when everything opens, you will come visit us.”

Barstool Sports did not disclose the amount of money Freddie’s would be getting, and the Lutzes were not immediately available to comment.

Writer and Barstool Sports show host Pat McAuliffe praised Portnoy’s pick in a blog post about Freddie’s.

“I could go on and on about how important bars like Freddie’s are to the LGBTQ community, but I won’t,” he said. “Instead I’m going to give you THIS LINK to donate to help more businesses like Freddie’s across the country.”

The Barstool Fund started with $500,000 of the media company’s funds and has since raised nearly 20 times that amount through donations and merchandise sales.

Businesses qualify if owners are continuing to pay their staff despite struggling to stay open. Portnoy pledged recurring relief for the businesses that are selected, so that rather than delaying an inevitable closure, the businesses have a chance at surviving post-pandemic.

“We’ll do it through the life of this thing,” Portnoy said on Carlson’s show.

×

Subscribe to our mailing list