Chicago’s Only Female-Owned, Queer-Friendly Bar Nobody’s Darling Aims to be Inclusive of Everybody

Nobody’s Darling is a tight space, but it has a whole lot of spunk and vibrant energy.

“Upbeat, women centered, fun, cocktails,” Renauda Riddle, co-owner, says those are some of the words to describe the newly opened bar.

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“I don’t think we quite anticipated the response. I think we knew that queer women would be like ‘this is awesome,’ but we’ve had such great response from straight people in the neighborhood, the trans community, gay men I mean it’s really been kind off this amazing space for people to come together and have mutual respect for each other,” said co-owner Angela Barnes.

The neighborhood bar on the corner Balmoral and Ravenswood used to be Joie De Vine, a lesbian wine bar that closed during the pandemic.

Longtime friends, Riddle and Barnes got together to take over the space and say they’re focused on inclusivity and a good craft cocktail.

“I have a passion for cocktails. When I have a good cocktail, it’s like biting into a juicy steak. So, I wanted to open my own bar and have that same energy and passion and give it other people,” Riddle said.

As for the Bar’s name “Nobody’s Darling,” Barnes got inspiration from her collection of poetry. The poem “Be Nobody’s Darling,” by Alice Walker spoke out to her.

“The poem is about being authentic and not being afraid to follow your own path. Even if your considered an outsider or even if people say you can’t do something just go boldly forth and kind of be who you want to be… and it felt like that’s us,” Barnes said.

Now the lounge is giving women a place to come together as hundreds of lesbian bars have closed down across the county. “The Lesbian Bar Project,” is a short film that showcases the decline of women queer owned bars. The film reports that since the '80s about 200 lesbian bars have shut down and about 21 queer spaces are still hanging on.

“We’re excited about being in this position, and we don’t take it lightly and everyday we’re trying to do better because we are new to this business,” Riddle said.

Even the products they serve consider the community.

“One of the things is we try to feature African American owned alcohol, as well as women owned or queer owned,” Barnes said.

And when this dynamic duo are not behind the bar and catching up with customers, Barnes is a legal counsel while Riddle is an auditor. The two say they’re working hard to create a lively space where they have the ability to host different events and bring people together.

“To see you 60-70 crowd sitting right next to the 20-something trans women, sitting next to the gay boys in their 30s something is going to happen in a really good way and it’s just the conversations,” Barnes said.

From the aesthetics of the bar to their craft cocktails, it all blends and pays homage to influential Black and brown women.

“We put our heart and our passion into the bar when he thought about the name, from the cocktails to the way we wanted to look. It something when we walked into this space we are proud of it,” Riddle said.

Making their mark not only as two queer women, but business women thriving through the pandemic hoping to encourage other women to go for it.  

“You come here to come have a great cocktail, listen to music and find community and the conversation goes from there,” Barnes said.

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