Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

It's no rumor: the club's a hotspot

In the Bars

LGBT-friendly dance venue on Main Street in Hayward

The scene at the ISE Christmas Party at Club Rumor inHayward. Photo: Courtesy Club Rumor
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It's not a rumor. Club Rumor, at 22554 Main Street, Hayward, is run by one of the most remarkable owner-operators this column has met to date.

Meet John Anthony Tarantino, who everyone calls Tony. Born in Italy, migrating to America at the age of seven and growing up in San Mateo's posh Hillsborough, he now lives in SM's equally tony Woodside. He's passionately committed to improving the club, but it's his home-life that impresses. From his estate, he's the CEO of Tarantino's, a group of restaurants stretching from San Diego to Sicily. (The Fisherman's Wharf Tarantino's is owned by his group, but leased out.)

Tony brings the same thoroughness and passion to Club Rumor. The club itself has been around for 50 years, and it turned gay 23 years after opening. It got its name because everyone was talking about it, and rumors were flying.

Tony came on the scene in 1999. He was talked into acquiring Rumor by a gay cousin. As he tells it in the club's living-room-like office in back, he made his cousin a deal. If Cuz could save money he made in the stock market for a year, Tony would come on board. To his surprise, his somewhat improvident cousin was able to do it, so Tony came on board. After two years, the cousin split, and now it's all Tony's. His best friend, Nick, is the manager.

Walk into the bar, and you'll see a lot of thought has gone into it. On your left is a pool table. The mirrored bar stretches along to the right, and the backlit bottles of Grey Goose and Malibu add an artistic touch. In back at the left, up a few steps, is an outdoor smoking patio. Normally it's heated, but the night we were there, they were preparing for the very popular Club Rimshot, so the heater was off to one side.

There's a back area with a dance and go-go area and something unique. Rumor is probably the only club that has a bartending school, and it operates here. Tony tells us that besides learning how to mix drinks, the students learn about the practical side of operating a bar. This year, over 300 students have attended.

A monthly list of activities is crafted to appeal to a broad range. The first Saturday is Latin Night. Oldies and New Wave take up the second Saturday. The third Saturday is Club Rimshot, run by hot-looking Joe Hawkins, who we got a chance to meet. Rimshot is headquartered at Club Rumor, but also operates in a number of other locations. The night we visited, some good-looking go-go boys were getting ready to go on near Midnight. The fourth Saturday is TNT ("Tits and Titties"), a night for the lesbian community.

Happy Hour is 4:30-7:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Unlike Happy Hours in other places, Rumor gives a flat $1 off everything, even sodas. Tony tells us he was the first in Hayward to do this, and many other local places copied him. This might be a good time to try the lemon drop, Rumor's signature drink.

Charitable events revolve around the ducal court, who give lip-synched shows three times a month. Lots of money has been raised.

Given Tony's restaurant background, there are many food events here. The day before Thanksgiving, it's turkey. New Year's Eve, it's always lasagna. For Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day, there are hot dogs and burgers, grilled in the patio.

The future? Tony has his eye on a second location, probably in San Mateo County. Many gay establishments have closed there, he notes, and the community is underserved.

In the meantime, you're invited to come to Club Rumor. It's not just a gay bar, people from many different communities mingle and have a good time. That's a fact, not just a rumor.

Club Rumor, 22554 Main Street, Hayward. (510) 733-2334, Open 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Mon.-Fri.; 10 a.m.-2 a.m., Sat. & Sun.

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