Friday, May 24, 2013

Remodeled Neighborhood Theatre up and running

NoDa residents, music fans, and local musicians from bands like the Catch Fire and the Loudermilks gathered Wednesday as the remodeled Neighborhood Theatre reopened its doors after having to relocate four concerts earlier this month (including Foals and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead) in order to complete renovations and procure operating licenses. 

With the bulk of the renovations complete, the New Neighborhood Theatre (as it’s known on Facebook) revealed a snazzy, modern new bar and a more sophisticated look.

Although the bar had a soft opening last weekend, Wednesday’s open house featured live music on the big room stage by Charlotte singer-songwriter Reeve Coobs with Jason Atkins. The first official show is Saturday’s New Familiars concert with Brock Butler of Perpetual Groove and the Trainwrecks, who will perform at an after party in the bar area - something that will happen frequently at the venue. A small raised stage will be erected in the front corner of the front room.

The layout is basically the same, but the bar is now the centerpiece of the front room. The bar, which includes seating, is situated along the wall between the large front room and the concert hall and is accessible from both sides.

The bathrooms feature new toilets, sinks, glass tiles, and wood framed mirrors and the stage features new lighting and sound equipment. But the bar is definitely the centerpiece. The sleek bar, which looks like a cross between a high-end restaurant bar and what the original theater might have resembled when it was built as a movie house in the `40s - changes the look of that front room along with local artwork that lines the front room (many pieces are by artists that live in the surrounding neighborhood).

The raised VIP sections in the concert space are gone. The floor is partially seated as before. Gregg McCraw, who books and promotes concerts at numerous Charlotte venues under the name Maxx Music and will handle that aspect of the Neighborhood, said a VIP section will be created in the balcony and will feature a dedicated bar of its own. He hopes to complete that project between Saturday’s show and the venue’s second - Jesse y Joy - on June 7.  

McCraw is relieved to have the venue open. It was announced in March that he would take over managing the theater along with Evening Muse owner Joe Kuhlmann and another partner. McCraw is now the only one of the three still involved. Real estate developer Tyler Foster owns the building and the name and is taking part in the renovations as well. 

London, England-native Alex Shaw has signed on as general manager. He worked next door at Sanctuary for four years before moving to Bask, the now closed NC Music Factory restaurant. He is also  tended bar and handled social media under Neighborhood Theatre's previous management team.   

“I wanted to come back. It seemed like a great opportunity to carry on the legacy of the (old) Neighborhood Theatre and do something new and exciting,” says Shaw, who moved to Charlotte nine years ago. He’s looking forward to business as usual. 

“The last month has been relatively trying. I’m not a construction worker or a construction boss. I’m a bartender,” he laughs.

McCraw says patrons can look for the calendar to fill up soon. He announced this week that Toad the Wet Sprocket will play the theater July 19.

You can keep up to date on continuing changes to the theater here -