Bought by George Centini in 1966, the Talley-Ho Tavern ran as a bar oriented toward straight clientele and went through different phases, until the Village Night Club closed in 1968 in Lancaster, PA.
“…when the Village Night Club when out of business I thought: “well, the Village went out of business I’m gonna capitalize on the gay bar.” – George Centini, Gary Hufford and George Centini Oral History
With the new focus in mind, Centini decided to remodel the bar. He changed the theme to “Western,” the dress code requirements, did away with craft beer, and charged a two-dollar cover fee. All changes were instituted to keep out the “rough guys.”
”So, what I did then I remodeled the place. The first soft thing I did I put dress code on, to try and keep the rough guys out, you know. And did away with the draft beer and just had mixed drinks and bottle beer…the two dollars kept a lot of the bully guys - kinda guys out. They didn’t want to pay two—they’re not gonna pay two dollars to come in and pay, especially not a gay bar.” – George Centini, Gary Hufford and George Centini Oral History
Eventually, Centini introduced dancing, seasonal parties, and organized bus trips to Atlantic City for patrons, all with the desire to give the LGBTQ+ community in Lancaster what they wanted in a LGBTQ+ bar.
“…we always tried to give the kids at the Tally-Ho what they were and what they needed.” – George Centini, Gary Hufford and George Centini Oral History
“Well, you were real generous with the clientele. I mean we would like, there would always be a great Halloween party, there was a Christmas party, a New Year’s party, anything for a party that was going to be there. And he always put out a big spread of food, for free, and ya know he was very giving to the kids.” – Gary Hufford, Gary Hufford and George Centini Oral History
The Loft Restaurant
The Talley-Ho is also where Centini and his partner Gary Hufford first met, and after starting a relationship, they came together on another project: The Loft Restaurant.
“…Gary started coming into the Tally-Ho. And I was on the door and got to know him. We got to know each other…Gary and I hooked up…and with Gary being in the restaurant business with the experience he had he said, “well let’s—let’s open up a restaurant upstairs.” – George Centini, Gary Hufford and George Centini Oral History.
Centini and Hufford decided to remodel the “rooming house” upstairs and open it as a restaurant. In 1971 renovations started, and in 1972 The Loft Restaurant officially opened. There was some judgement from other fine dining restaurants in Lancaster that The Loft would not do well because of the owners being “gay,” but they were soon proven wrong.
“…within two months we had ‘em all in town, even at the Loft because we had good food and good service.” – George Centini, Gary Hufford and George Centini Oral History
The restaurant catered to all crowds and received high reviews. Centini also notes that the straight crowd from the restaurant tended to move downstairs to the Tally Ho bar for dancing:
“But all of that from the time we opened the Loft we did get a certain amount of straight people that ate at the Loft, a lot of times would go downstairs after dinner because… because had great music… There was never no trouble y’know, so we had a pretty good mix then of people.” – George Centini, Gary Hufford and George Centini Oral History
Even with the success of both locations, Centini and Hufford sold to new management in the early 1980’s, and both establishments are still running today.