For me, one of the best places to see my friends tends to be a bar. That’s how C.Frenz in Reseda, the neighborhood’s first and only gay bar, was born. Owner Stephen Miele recalls how his friend created the name using a play on words that fit the environment he wanted for his new bar. Simply put, he wanted to run a local watering hole where you could go and see your friends.

I went to C.Frenz on a Friday night, and people began to trickle in as it grew later. The bar was dark, moody, and musky. The welcoming vibe is by design and you feel it the minute you walk in. Miele has carefully curated a friendly atmosphere where queer people can feel safe in more ways than one. 

Below, get a glimpse of our chat with Miele and how he came to own C.Frenz in Reseda, how he raised the bar to support the LGBTQ+ community, and how his bar has come back from a catastrophic break-in.

The Origins of C.Frenz in Reseda

Miele was born and raised in New York in 1952, where he worked in the restaurant business for many years before entering law school. He ultimately moved to the Valley to continue his studies at Southwest Law and practiced law until 1994, which is when he decided to to change gears.

As a gay man with experience in the restaurant business, Miele was passionate in creating an atmosphere where people could meet and have a good time, specifically when social media and dating apps were not around.

A drink and shot glass full of peanuts at C.Frenz in Reseda

He first opened a bar in North Hollywood in 1994 called Club L, also known as the Lodge. As his first bar flourished, he felt the need to expand his business and open another gay bar in a location more central to the Valley. That’s when he found Bananas in January 2005, a gay bar for sale that fit what he was looking for. Thus, C.Frenz was born.

The design of C.Frenz hasn’t changed since Miele purchased it from its previous owner. However, it did expand after COVID, providing more open space in the back area that remains today. Unfortunately, due to an increased rent at Club L, Miele’s only bar is C.Frenz.

How C.Frenz Is Raising the Bar

As the owner of the only gay bar in Reseda, Miele is proud to have created a bar that’s also a social, education, and community center. Having been there for myself, I can attest that C.Frenz is where all types of individuals can find and explore their sexuality in a safe space.

The bar itself is a center of communication outside the digital walls of the internet. Miele prides himself on providing resources through events and healthcare clinic visits that present to patrons the importance of mental, sexual, and social health. Miele has also created a fun place for people to safely meet, enjoy karaoke, watch different types of shows, and dance. His biggest desire is for C.Frenz to be a bit of everything for the gay community. In addition to a stage for karaoke and gogo dancers, there are two pool tables and two patio areas for everyone to enjoy.

The artwork and two pool tables, one green and one red, at C.Frenz in Reseda
A lush patio with wicker chairs and a rainbow mural
Photo: Jess Fuentes

During my visit, I met two fantastic gogo dancers who were giving it their all. I also met someone who has been Stephen’s client since 2001. Now a drag performer at the bar, they spoke of their experience growing up and the difference it’s made to have a place like C.Frenz in their life. To them, C.Frenz is a safe place where they’ve made countless friends and can show off their art.

All About the Comeback

Besides having to halt business during the COVID lockdown, C.Frenz suffered a huge break-in in 2020. The bar was left bare, and Miele lost a lot of money on alcohol, machines, and art. The thieves completely removed items from the walls, and Miele was heartbroken that his creation had been destroyed.

But the community refused to let the queer hub go under. With their help, C.Frenz raised almost $12,000, which helped bring the bar back from the violent break-in. The community and staff also donated their time to repair holes and fix damages throughout the bar.

Wooden sculptures of the nude male and female form

It is always best to check the C.Frenz Instagram or Facebook account to keep track of the different theme nights. Among some of their most popular are Thursday nights with karaoke, Friday nights are pachanga with DJ Tony and their amazing gogo dancers, and Saturdays have DJ Tony blasting music and giving everyone a great place to dance. Friday is their busiest night of the week. 

Sundays 3 p.m.-8 p.m., there’s a free BBQ for all who purchase a drink. Happy hour is daily, also from 3 p.m.-8 p.m., and they have one of the cheapest beers in the Valley. It costs $4 and well cocktails cost $5. Their specialty drink is known as Mexican Candy. It consists of tequila, watermelon, triple sec, sweet and sour, and, depending on the bartender preparing it, a splash of ginger beer.

The Bottom Line: C.Frenz in Reseda Is a Valley Staple

You can find Miele at C.Frenz Friday through Sunday. On Sundays, he’s the one cooking the BBQ.

When he’s not at the bar, Miele teaches entertainment law at the New York Film Academy and volunteers his time to LGBTQ+ causes. Many of his staff have worked at C.Frenz for 15-20 years, and you feel the familial atmosphere as you hang out with your friends.

I recommend stopping by, especially this month, to support our community and keep this bar open for those who need somewhere close where they feel safe. Or simply for those looking for a great place to dance and have a good time.

C.Frenz is kicking off their Pride celebrations on Friday, June 7, at 9 p.m. with pachanga. DJ Tony will be behind the turn tables; there will be gogo dancers and a drag show! Don’t miss out.

Author

I was born in the San Fernando Valley and have lived here most of my life, minus a few months when I lived in San Jose, California and different parts of México. My life's mantra is mulitas, tacos, micheladas, and tequila—and I firmly believe that "The Valley" only applies to the 818. Sorry, not sorry.

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