San Diego LGBTQ Destination Gossip Grill Victim Of Apparent Arson

October 20, 2023

Last night, San Diego LGBTQ hotspot, Gossip Grill bar & restaurant in Hillcrest, fell victim to an apparent case of arson.

A little past midnight on Thursday, October 20, Gossip Grill, a welcoming LGBT establishment known as "SoCal's Best Women's Bar," faced a distressing incident as both of its patios were deliberately set ablaze, along with the Pride flag prominently displayed outside the venue. Security from nearby Rich's Nightclub quickly rushed to the scene to help extinguish the flames and ensure the safety of the restaurants staff. 

Witnesses initially noticed a blaze along the west side of Gossip Grill's outdoor smoking patio, and shortly after, a second fire on the eastern non-smoking patio was discovered. Although Gossip Grill was closed at the time, some staff members were still inside the building, preparing to depart for the night. Fortunately, the swift response of the San Diego Fire Department kept property damage to a minimum, and, most importantly, no injuries were reported. Despite this unfortunate occurrence, Gossip Grill remains undeterred and will continue to operate during its regular business hours.    

"We can’t believe this happened - last night on 10/20 at about 12:30am Gossip Grill had both front patios set on fire," read a post on the company's social media. "It was intentional and was arson. Everyone is OK and damage was contained to the front patios. We do have cameras and are working with SDPD to find out who lit our Queer Home on fire. Gossip Grill is one of the last remaining Queer Women’s bars in the country. It breaks my heart knowing that someone intentionally tried to burn it down. If anyone has any info helping to find out who did this, please reach out to me and SDPD. And a huge THANK YOU to our fire department for saving our home."
San Diego resident Ryan Habrel has been taken into custody by the San Diego Police Department as a suspect in the arson. The restaurant's security cameras were operational and captured footage of the arsonist. Habrel is allegedly a former employee of Gossip Grill sister restaurant Urban MO's. Staff and local residents who know Habrel speculate that mental health and homelessness issues might have contributed to the incident. Habrel is a recognized transient who has been living on the streets of Hillcrest for several years. The arson is not believed to be a hate crime. 

Moe Girton founded Gossip Grill on Halloween 2009 with the intention of creating a community-driven women's bar that is open to everyone. Over its 14 years in business, Gossip Grill has become a beloved restaurant, bar, and nightclub and a fixture in San Diego's Hillcrest. Considered one of the last remaining queer women's bars in the nation, Gossip Grill has been featured in The Lesbian Bar Project, a three-part mini-series that documents the decline of women's queer spaces from roughly 200 lesbian bars to now less than 30. Gossip Grill is part of the Mo's Universe hospitality company, which also operates Urban MO's, Hillcrest Brewing Company, Baja Betty's, Barrel & Board, insideOUT, and Bar Hillcrest.

Gossip Grill is located at 1220 University Avenue in San Diego's Hillcrest. For more information, visit