Popular LGBT bar celebrating its first anniversary in April
By Kristi Parker
WICHITA - With pool leagues, dart night, karaoke, drag shows, life-size Jenga, Ingo nights, and a DJ every Saturday, Rocky’s has become a popular place over the course of its year in existence. The new bar, located just off of Kellogg on Topeka, has a friendly Cheers-type atmosphere with plenty of parking in the back.
“We needed a bar for the girls,” Rocky Cornelson, owner, said of her initial inspiration. “Everyone kept saying they were going to open one and then nothing would happen.” But Rocky’s turned into so much more than just a bar for the girls.
“Rocky is successful because of her personality and ability to treat everyone equal. She is respected by everyone in the community,” one patron explained.
All genders were present at a crowded evening for pool leagues one Monday. “It’s the place to be,” one person said as she looked around the bar. “I love it.”
Cornelson thinks her success isn’t based on anything particularly special. “People like to come,” she said. “Everyone gets treated right, the bartenders know your name, if you’ve had too much to drink at the end of the night they’ll even give you a ride home.”
That personal touch was exemplified by a recent experience of one customer. He said that he was up at the bar looking for something to eat. There are chips for sale, but he wasn’t interested in chips, and although there is a tremendous kitchen in the back, Cornelson’s not ready to jump into food service.
“I wanted popcorn or pretzels or something salty,” he said. Not finding anything he went back to his dart game with a friend. A short time later the bartender set a bowl of Chex mix on their table. The bartender had called his boyfriend and asked him to stop at the store and pick something up on his way to the bar.
“I was absolutely blown away,” he said. “I couldn’t believe they went out and bought me something to eat!”
That’s just the kind of experience customers have come to expect at Rocky’s. “Great environment, friendly staff, everyone is treated with respect,” is what several people said they liked best about the new bar.
On April 29, Cornelson will mark the first anniversary of her new venture. Prior to opening she tells stories of being physically sick with worry about all the things that come with running a business. She is planning a big party and show with drag kings and queens to celebrate the occasion.
As for the future, adding a patio beside the bar, along the alley that leads to the parking lot in the back, is in the works. Other than that, Cornelson just wants to keep offering the hospitality she feels the community deserves. Oh, and it's time to renew all the licenses and permits and . . . l