Gay-owned OutLoud moved into a former massage parlor in the 1800 block of Church Street in the mid-1990s — when no other landlord would rent space to a gay-themed bookstore — and it helped revitalize a dingy stretch of questionable properties near downtown.
Now, the 1500 to 1800 blocks of Church are bustling with a handful of lively nightspots and restaurants — serving as an entertainment hub for Nashville's gay community and others drawn to places as diverse as the new bar Canvas and the eclectic Suzy Wong's House of Yum restaurant.
...Jensen and current business partner (OutLoud President Kevin Medley) moved a block away from the original location several years ago, built out a much larger space and added a fancy coffee house.
The coffee house proved to be a bust and a place that devoured cash. Several hundred thousand dollars in reserves that might have helped in lean times evaporated as Jensen added to his payroll with as many as 26 employees.
"We wanted to make it as beautiful as possible, but I expanded too fast," Jensen said with a shrug.
The plan now is to sell, if possible, or lock the doors, if need be, at the end of January.
No matter how it turns out, Jensen figures he made some sort of mark."I learned by doing and making mistakes," he said. "But this business was my passion. I ran it from my heart, not a spreadsheet."
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