By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The August 20 meeting of the zoning board of adjustment in Denton was a formality, a rubber stamp. Baish knew before he walked in that he'd be leaving empty-handed, that the zoning board wouldn't grant the variance he wanted. Not this time. Since applying for the variance in the middle of June, he'd been working with city planner Thomas Gray, trying to figure out how to resolve Rubber Gloves' parking problem. Before the meeting even began, Baish knew that Gray would go before the board and recommend they postpone making a decision so Rubber Gloves could continue negotiating with a nearby business to use its parking lot and get the 39 parking spaces needed. Which they did:
"It sounds like what we need to do is put this on hold until the next meeting, until we can find out whether we even need to make any motion or not," board member John Johnson says. "Because if he gets the parking worked out, then there is no issue for us to deal with."
"I agree with you, John," the board's chairman, Bob Manning, says. "We might as well table this one more time and give them a chance to exactly work out the details. And then, according to that, the whole thing kind of goes away. Do I have a motion to that effect?"
"I'm making that motion," Johnson says.
And that was that. Baish could have stayed at home and he wouldn't have missed a thing. But he came anyway, because he's too close to the finish line to chance anything. The final hurdle is almost cleared: He's negotiating with Ronnie Stanford--owner of Stanford Muffler & Automotive, an auto repair shop across the railroad tracks from Rubber Gloves--to use his parking lot during shows. The lot still needs to be striped before it can be used, but building inspector Greg Mitchell estimates Stanford's lot can hold 40 to 45 spaces, more than enough to meet the building code.
"What Ronnie Stanford's requiring is, after he [the parking lot striper] goes out there and plans it out and sees how he's going to stripe it, then I have to submit something to Ronnie Stanford going, 'OK, this is what I'm gonna do,'" Baish says. "I think he's going to go ahead and do it."
If Stanford gives the agreement his thumbs-up, and if Mitchell does so as well, the outdoor stage could be opened within a matter of days. Mitchell would come to the club to determine Rubber Gloves' new capacity--he says for a high-concentrated assembly area such as a nightclub, the formula is one person per every 7 square feet--and once he does that, he'll issue Baish a certificate of occupancy. Meaning: The doors are open. "They could have one tomorrow," Mitchell says. "As soon as [the parking situation] is resolved, they get one. Assuming that's the only issue, which I believe it is."
Baish has been happier with his relationship with the city since he began working with Mitchell and Gray, and they both seem to be on his side. Gray, especially, knows how difficult the situation Baish is in is, since he works with people like him everyday.
"He wants to get started, and I understand that," Gray says. "He's been very patient, and I think he's been pretty diligent in the information he's gotten to us. I've had a lot of applicants where you have to hold their hand through the entire process, but I think Josh understands what's going on, and he's trying to rectify the situation as quickly as he can, so he can start using that venue for live acts and such."
Robin Phillips--who until recently worked as Rubber Gloves' booking agent and now books the club through Daughter Entertainment, a new booking agency she runs with the Ridglea Theater's Melissa Kirkendall--is also anxious for the outdoor stage to open.
"Because I can't say yes to everybody, just with the capacity," says Phillips, who's been booking gigs for Rubber Gloves since it first started hosting shows in 1997. Without the outdoor stage, Rubber Gloves' capacity is under 200 people; with it, the club could hold almost 1,000. "It sucks, because like with The Faint and stuff, I totally had to tell the booking agent, 'Oh yeah, the capacity's fine.' You know, we had to move out tables, so if the fire marshal does comes, it doesn't look like there's a lot of people in there."
Baish will be happy when he doesn't have to worry about being unprepared for a surprise visit from the fire marshal, when he can come to work and not be greeted by a message from a building inspector or someone in the planning department. He's also ready for the investment he made three years ago, and all of the money he's spent since then, to start paying off. In some way, he'll say, it has, even though he admits he'd never have bought in if he'd had the slightest idea of what would happen. But seeing great bands every week doesn't pay the rent on his apartment.
"I make the bare minimum," Baish says. "I make enough to get by. I didn't even take a salary at all this month. What helps is the fact that I own the building, so Rubber Gloves pays me rent, which keeps me going. If that weren't the case, then I don't think there'd be really any way I could afford to continue to do that. I don't foresee this being the financial situation for as long as I'm here. I foresee it coming together. If you're involved in a business and you start it, I mean, the turnaround is a couple of years. I finally see that light at the end of the tunnel.