Hotel Tides in Asbury Park and the changing of the guard

Hotel Tides street view
Hotel Tides street view photo by Lana Leonard

The LGBTQ community will miss Ryan Jiminez and the staff

After more than a decade, Asbury Park’s famous LGBTQ managed boutique hotel and restaurant, Hotel Tides, is under new ownership. Here is what some have to say of the Tides, a place many considered another home.

area artists on its lobby walls
Hotel Tides featured area artists on its lobby walls that changed as frequently as an art gallery

Chris Lopa has waited tables since the 80s. He waited tables at Hotel Tides for 12 years. “That’s first grade through graduation,” he said, “think about it that way.”

His past experience in other establishments, he says, is incomparable to what he had at the charismatic boutique hotel folded into the residential part of 7th Avenue. He fell in love, and he wasn’t the only one.

Ryan Jimenez began working at Hotel Tides as a general manager approximately a week after Lopa began waiting tables. “By the time I got there, we were basically starting from scratch,” Lopa said. “Ryan raised the awareness of Tides from day one. He promoted—whatever he could do, he did it.” The two were a team he said until the day he lost his job. “The rug was pulled from beneath me.”

Hotel Tides went on the market on December 5, 2020, for an asking price of $4.1 million and sold for $2.75 million per Coldwell Banker website. The 20-room hotel and its highly acclaimed bar and restaurant owned by Doug and Sandra Morrison are now under new ownership. Tides is currently closed for renovation with a planned reopening in the summer of 2022. But there will be a new staff.

With three weeks’ notice Jimenez told his staff in September they would be jobless by Oct. 1, 2021. Jimenez realized he had no power between the Covid-19 pandemic and sale of Tides. “I forget about all the things we’ve done, all the weddings, all the birthdays, all the fundraisers, forget that because I’m just going to work, and then, when people started coming to [me] with their stories and everything, it really started to sink in that we [were] one of the last standing institutions in the city,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez is known as the face of Hotel Tides. For 12 years Jimenez multi-tasked the functions of Tides as well as multiple fundraising events including the Pink Prom which has raised tens of thousands of dollars over the years for various LGBTQ organizations including Project REAL, Garden State Equality, and the Pride Network. Jimenez also hosted an annual food drive for Fulfill and Catsbury Park, as well as an annual “TIPS for Toys” for the Asbury Park Toy Drive. Hotel Tides produced Asbury Park Bear Weekend and the Cupcake Bake Off, which raised money for hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the wildfires in California.

“I think of him as an unsung hero, to be frank,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality. To Fuscarino, Hotel Tides will be a missed staple of Asbury Park. “I remember when Georgie’s, Paradise, and Hotel Tides were sometimes referred to as the ‘rainbow loop,’ and that was known LGBTQ owned or managed establishments frequented by the local queer and trans community,” he said. “All three of them had different vibes but it was the shared values and emphasis on community you’d find at each location.”

“Of course, you know, leaving Tides was basically losing my identity,” said Jimenez. He is taking time off from work to heal, rest and experience Saturday nights off. It’s something he wasn’t able to do while working a 50-to-60-hour work week.

“I went through different stages of grief and anger and everything else. I had to deal with that,” Jimenez said.

Hotel Tides in Asbury Park
Hotel Tides in Asbury Park

Jimenez and Lopa hope the new owners will maintain the LGBTQ community focus the way it was. GSE’s Fuscarino shares this hope too. “You know, I think, it’s just my hope that the new owners will continue to prioritize the [LGBTQ]community the way Hotel Tides has over the years,” Fuscarino said.

Historically Hotel Tides has come under new ownership many times since the late 1800s when it was auctioned to Mrs. Susan Flynn. She operated the hotel as the St. Laurent. Once again, the hotel closes a chapter in its long history to begin again with the community of Asbury Park.

Lana Leonard
Lana Leonard (they/them) is a graduate from The College of New Jersey with a degree in journalism and professional writing. They work at the GLAAD Media institute and freelance for publications like LGBTQ Nation while working on their journalistic theory of change project: Late Nights with Lana, a talk show based out of 10PRL film studios in Long Branch, NJ. Lana's mission, in all their work, is to focus on people, their collective truths and how those truths form a community of knowledge towards change.