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BREAKING: Raven to close in October, become a parking lot

It’s the end of an era.

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.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • While I agree there has been some issues with management, I also believe this is a case of the changing times. Supply=Demand. Technology is great, but comes at a cost as retail stores close and yes our favorite bars as well. I have not seen the Raven crowded in many years. Not sure if I were a stakeholder I would continue to do business here either. It is very expensive to run a business and this is not the kind of business that has products to sell online. We cannot just blame the new owners, we need to take a look at ourselves as well and ask when was the last time we put the phone down and actually went out? It is sad, but at least for a lot of us we were able to enjoy the Raven back in its prime. The newbies coming up will never know the fun and great times we had there.

  • They are stealing everything but the roof tiles from Raven to haul to Blue Moose.One failed Management team going on to destroy another fine establishment. Not paying bills.Does not Gateway see what is going on or hoping the building collapses from the vandalism or a form of ethnic lighting hits it one night.Time will tell.

  • Why wait until October? Just close it now. I am sure the staff has already checked out and since the last closing back in March (restaurant never reopened) most of the customers have stopped going there. Its dark and dingy and in need of major repairs. Most have already migrated to the Cub Room, John & Peters etc. I used to think their food was good. Had a burger there a couple weeks ago and it was lousy. Wishing all the staff the best in their future endeavors.

  • I don’t believe anything at this point . I do not believe there going to build another Raven . I think this was just a way to move out the Gay community . I wish there are some wealthy gay guys that could buy this place . We are loosing History here forever . I will be missing some very good friends of mine . Just remember, Nothing last forever !!!

  • Big picture- A lot less tourist $$$$$ for New Hope. Unless the town has some grand plan for revitalization, its not looking good. Most will bypass NH for Philly, Rehoboth, or other LGBTQ friendly destinations.

      • That’s a pretty fair assessment. Once the Cartwheel burned…but the Cartwheel was in rough shape even before that. I never felt that downtown New Hope was all that gay friendly. You had a few hangouts (Like Karla’s) and some gay-owned stores but I never felt there was a strong gay presence downtown. It was really the fact that you had multiple gay clubs that made New Hope a destination. The Raven hasn’t been well run in years.

  • If the River House isn’t opening until Spring 2020, then why do they need to close The Raven In October for use as a parking lot? Wait until the residents of Riverwoods realize that they are the direct path from The River House and The Raven Parking Lot. They’re not going to be happy that their neighborhood has become a thruway!

  • A friend just emailed me the notice of the Raven’s closing and I could not believe my eyes in reading about this sad, sad decision. I cannot believe that somewhere over the rainbow there has to be some single, or two or three, wealthy gay entrepreneurs that would love to purchase the Raven and make it the fabulous place that it once was as The Raven is our only Haven in lovely Bucks County. Back in the day New Hope had FOUR gay establishments. That was unheard of for such a small community. If I had tons of money to spend I would purchase the property myself and hire some good qualified personnel to run the place. Darn, where’s Samantha or Endora when you need them.

    • So happy to know that you are alive and well, David. I was hoping to see you at the closing of The Raven, or even the memorial service for Glenn E. Kennedy at The Cub Room on Sunday, November 3, 2019. Following is a meditation that I left on another thread, but I thought that you would apprecite my weighing in.

      It is a fact that the ‘ORIGINAL’ Raven of 1979 was named after ‘Raven Hall’ in England――not a poem by Edgar Allen Poe.

      However, the dismantling of The Raven in ANY form is going to cast a pall over the community, and it will mar the integrity of the original, country charm of The Raven’s two acres of open space, the beautiful deck that overlooks the pool (replete with mosaic art of a black Raven in flight at the bottom of The Raven’s iconic pool――and, I hope and pray that the new management keeps, restores and preserves it), as well as the quaint charms of the original property.

      Stop urbanizing the country, all New Hope merchants, investors and land and property owners――the simple country life landscapes and fallow is exactly the kind of bucolic and verdant draw that attracts steady, out of town tourism that is critical to the survival of two unique hamlets like New Hope and Lambertville, New Jersey, right across the bridge.

      Hence, below are some pensive quotes to seriously contemplate, as New Hope undergoes this latest Raven closure/transformation. I wish everyone well, and hopefully great success in the reopening of New Hope’s last iconic gay establishment, that for too long has fallen into the hands of dispassionate, quick profit ownership, hasty acquisition (the last sale of which was first owned, and then leased, to a 28-year-old novice named Sam Ambani, whose unresponsive management intentionally let The Raven property――and, gay clientele――fall to the wayside).

      Already, the new site (and still under construction ‘behemoth,’ The Riverhouse at Odette’s), resembles a blighted eyesore of disproportionate configuration that is more suitable to a generic, New Jersey strip mall than a quaint, winding country River Road (32).

      ❝The further a society drifts from the truth, the more that it will hate those who speak it.❞ ――George Orwell

      ❝Do not correct a fool, or he will hate you. Always correct a wise man and he will appreciate you.❞ ――Unknown

      ❝The most formidable military machine depends ultimately on the obedience of its soldiers, that the most powerful corporation becomes helpless when its workers stop working, and when its customers refuse to buy its products. The strike, the boycott, the refusal to serve, the ability to paralyze the functioning of a complex social structure――these remain potent weapons against the most fearsome state or corporate power ❞ ――Howard Zinn

      Finally, when injustice becomes law—―then resistance becomes duty!

      ❝Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the State is lawless and corrupt.❞ ――Mahatma Gandhi

      ❝I think that our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think that we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends. I think that they are all insane. But, I am liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what is insane about it. Don’t you agree?❞ ―—John Lennon

  • I just think that this will not be a good move for New Hope. This place created a lot if freindships from near and far. I just hope this is not a a smoke screen for something else. This place was a safe haven for the gay community. We shall see.

  • This is extremely sad news! To all the gay community that thinks assimilation is a good thing! Think twice! We are losing are hang-outs and when someone punches you in the face because you are gay……you may rethink your past decisions!

    • A parking lot for a restaurant that is on the other side of town makes no sense! Has anyone tried to get through traffic in New Hope during peak tourist days/hours. I’m sure the patrons of Odettes will appreciate waiting up to 15 minutes to get there car. This is a tragedy! The Raven served as a safe place for so many LGBTQ people to congregate. Please do continue to take away the few places where we can go and be ourselves without being stared at or harrassed!

      • They are going to tear down the Raven for their Valet parking lot. Yes, patrons will have to wait 15 minutes+ to get their car, but they won’t be walking. I see this as their final plan and doubt they will rebuild. A loss indeed for town.

  • “We are excited to have Gateway to New Hope acquire this landmark property,” Ambani said.

    Nice to see that someone is excited. Not me. It’s the last venue for gay culture, and gay history, in this town. It wasn’t just a gay bar. It was gay history.

  • Owner’s are Sell -Out’s! The Raven should be a Historical Landmark and I just see the same thing happening that happened to the Cartwheel. It will wind up being torn down to become a Parking Lot. Horrible!!

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