The Love Lounge’s manager wants to rename the downtown bar to get rid of the “stigma” attached to the current name and “change its image.”
But the proposed new name, Xclusive, isn’t sitting too well with Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams.
The mayor said starting the new name with an “X” sounds “suggestive,” particularly for a bar next to a children’s museum, the Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology.
Saying he wasn’t being critical of the business, Williams said Xclusive “conjures up images that isn’t consistent with that establishment. It isn’t a gentlemen’s club or an adult- entertainment business. They should consider a less-suggestive name.”
The mayor’s reaction surprises Charles “Lucky” Penny, who manages the bar.
“It wasn’t meant to be sexually explicit,” he said. “... Why would I have a name that’s sexual? We already know we’ve got the light on us because we’re black-managed. Why would I add to that?”
Like any downtown bar, Penny said the Love Lounge has had issues, but his business gets more negative attention because it’s managed by a black man and is considered an “urban bar.”
Penny says he is a major booster of the city, particularly downtown, and wants to play a positive role in its revitalization.
The new name — which would use “X” as the business’ symbol — is part of an overall effort to change the bar’s image, Penny said.
It’s called the Love Lounge, Penny said, in tribute to the Love family, which includes his mother, and provided the money to open the establishment.
The bar, at 15 W. Federal St., has made interior improvements, has instituted a dress code and no longer allows anyone under age 21 inside, he said. Those under 21 were never permitted to drink there, he added.
The name change to Xclusive was to appeal to “the exclusive people of Youngstown,” Penny said.
“We’re changing to attract a more mature crowd,” he said. “I love downtown. It’s the only place I want to put a business.”
Penny went to Tuesday’s city Design Review Committee meeting seeking approval for a new front awning over the doorway of the bar with the new name.
John DeFrance, a committee member, said more information about the awning, particularly the height above the street, was needed before a decision could be made on approving the exterior improvement.
After Penny left at the advice of DeFrance, Williams arrived at the meeting.
Committee members told him about the name change, and Williams then raised concerns about it sounding suggestive.
The Vindicator spoke to Penny after the meeting about the mayor’s statements. Penny said he’s willing to listen to the mayor’s advice on a new name.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the committee approved an exterior sign for the Downtown Circle Convenience & Deli store at 116 W. Federal St. The Mediterranean food and convenience store will open no later than July 1.
The committee also approved exterior signs for a Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches at 131 Lincoln Ave., currently a vacant building. It isn’t known when that restaurant will open.