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October 15, 2019Cart

Business

by Fairfield County Business Journal
by FCBJ

Fairfield’s Trevi Lounge waves the rainbow flag with pride

Katia Capozziello, owner of the LGBT-focused Trevi Lounge in Fairfield, said her venue is a friendly environment for all residents. Photo by Phil Hall.

It can be easy to overlook Trevi Lounge if you happen to be driving a bit too fast down Kings Highway Cutoff in Fairfield during the day. Scrunched between an expansive Sunoco gas station and a massive Edge Fitness facility, the compact 3,500-square-foot single-story Trevi Lounge, with its red brick façade and dark windows facing the street, does not stand out and only the rainbow flag hanging at the entrance brings a splash of color to its austere presence.

But that’s during the daytime. For the bar’s owner and operator, Katia Capozziello, Trevi Lounge is in the right place at the right time when the sun goes down. “I think the location is great,” she said. “It is pretty much the only business around that’s open at night time, so we have to use the parking lots from Home Depot across the street and Edge Fitness next door.”

Trevi Lounge opened in 2013, filling a void in lower Fairfield County with the 2010 closing of Westport’s 71-year-old Cedar Brook Café, which was reputedly the nation’s oldest continuously operating LGBT bar. When Danbury’s Triangles closed in 2015 after three decades in business, Trevi Lounge became the region’s only LGBT-focused establishment.

Capozzielo did not originally intend to be involved in this line of work. “I was a housewife,” she said, noting that she and her husband owned a hardwood-floor installation business. The property at 548 Kings Highway Cutoff was owned by her father-in-law and had previously housed eateries, but Capozziello was recruited to take charge when the original Trevi Lounge manager left shortly after the bar opened.

“This was a learning experience,” she said. “It was a challenge for me, not knowing the business or the people.”

In her five years at the helm, Capozziello has become a ubiquitous presence within Fairfield County’s LGBT world, actively participating in events across the region and marketing her venue as a welcoming environment for all residents.

“We are the bar with the most diversity when it comes to gay bars,” she said. “This is not a place where you can say, ‘This is mostly a lesbian bar or this is mostly a white crowd.’ We have great diversity. You come here on Friday nights and you see gays, you see lesbians, you see trans, you see rich, you see poor, you see every color.”

And, to her delight, plenty of straight people are finding their way to her door. “Some come with their friends and some drive by and don’t even know it is a gay bar, but they come in and enjoy the place and come back,” she said.

Capozziello has recently raised the Trevi Lounge’s visibility within the local arts community by hosting a series of live musical theater presentations — last year saw the staging of “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Xanadu,” and a new offering of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” begins a two-week run on Sept. 7. A karaoke night brings out a range of local talent that constantly amazes Capozziello.

“If you come here, you won’t believe it,” she said. “Some of the people who come here should be on ‘American Idol.’ A lot of them are still shy and introverted and this motivates them to go out and be themselves.”

Capozziello is also trying to position Trevi Lounge as a venue for local fundraisers and event marketing for consumer products. In the recent primary elections, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim held a fundraising outreach aimed at LGBT voters. Capozziello remarked that the turnout was “pretty good,” but also observed that the other candidates in the race bypassed the Trevi Lounge.

“Our doors were open for all candidates, but he was the only one who has recognized the gay community around here,” she said.

And while LGBT venues around the country have seen harassment or worse, Capozziello gladly pointed out that Trevi Lounge has not been targeted by hate groups. “There has been no harassment,” she said. “The Fairfield Police have been amazing. They drive by at night to make sure everything has been okay.”

Trevi Lounge is no longer Fairfield County’s sole LGBT bar — Troupe429 opened in Norwalk last November — but Capozziello would be interested in possibly expanding elsewhere in the region. “Trevi is still very young,” she said. “If it takes off, maybe we’ll have a Trevi Two someplace.”