Management of the iconic Raven bar/restaurant/hotel shocked New Hope and the world beyond by announcing Monday afternoon on Facebook that they would be closing their doors on Oct. 14.
Gateway to New Hope, who bought the Raven in June, confirmed Monday evening that the property would close next month and be used as a valet parking lot for their new Riverhouse at Odette’s luxury resort, expected to open next spring at the southern end of New Hope on River Road. But they emphasized that they intended to build a new, improved club at the Raven site.
“The Gateway to New Hope team is passionate about preserving the legacy of this renowned property, and while it will be taking a brief hiatus from its current operations as we work towards final approvals and permits in the development of an enhanced hotel and restaurant/bar experience for Raven guests, we know that the next chapter will continue to be welcoming with a friendly & relaxed atmosphere, including recreated Oak Room & Cabana Bar experiences, with enhanced amenities for the LGBTQ+ and greater New Hope community,” said Julie Yeager, spokesperson for Gateway to New Hope.
Yeager also said the new hotel/restaurant/bar will keep the name “Raven,” and recreate its popular swimming pool. She wouldn’t comment on whether the old Raven structures will be completely torn down to accommodate the build out.
Yeager also wasn’t able to say how long the “brief hiatus from its current operations” was expected to be.
“The permitting process tends to be long, so we have no idea how quickly we can get through the process,” she said.
Gateway to New Hope, LLC, developers of the the River House at Odette’s, announced June 11 that they had purchased the Raven in New Hope.
“The sale will be finalized later this month, and while ownership has changed, the operations of the Raven will remain the same,” Gateway said in a statement at the time, also asserting that it didn’t have any immediate plans for development, but was “studying possible ways to enhance the property, as well as use the existing parking facilities to support event and hotel needs for the River House at Odette’s, once it opens in Spring 2020.” They said they would lease the Raven back to its current operator, Sam Ambani, who would continue to serve as manager.
“We are excited to have Gateway to New Hope acquire this landmark property,” Ambani said on June 11. “We know that this will be a seamless transition, as current management will continue operations of the property, offering the same services that you have come to expect from the Raven.
Financial terms of the sale to Gateway were not disclosed, but the Raven had been listed for sale at $5.9 million in February 2018. The price tag included the business, structures, equipment, inventory, liquor license and 2.4 acres of land.
The Raven was founded in 1979 at 385 W. Bridge Street, and represents New Hope’s last remaining gay club, following the demise of the Cartwheel and Prelude in years past. It draws large, diverse crowds year round, with a popular restaurant, three bars, hotel rooms, guest house, pool, lounge areas, and dance floor.
Story edited 10:30 a.m. Sept. 11 to add comments by Gateway to New Hope.