The owners and operators of the new music space, now called Amplified, don't just see this as an opportunity for rebranding now that Rawlings is no longer involved; they see it more as a "rebuilding."
"We've updated the look and vibe of the venue and eliminated a lot of the garage feel," says managing partner Alex Mendonsa, who also worked at the venue under the Gas Monkey name, "so we can focus more on what we do: food and music."
The venue, with indoor and outdoor concert stages, has been given a makeover for the third time in the last 11 years, starting with the old Firewater brand that once occupied the same space near Interstate 35.
All of the car tchotchkes that usually adorned the walls of the space under the Gas Monkey sign have been moved out and replaced with items such as Marshall amp cabinets and an improved sound system that remind attendees they are there to listen to live music. Even the venue's official website has a clear warning at the top of the page that Amplified "is not affiliated with Gas Monkey Garage, the Gas Monkey Brand or Richard Rawlings."
"I used to come to Firewater all the time with my now deceased best friend Vinnie Paul from Pantera," says Amplified consultant Scott Long. "Vinnie loved this venue for many years through the Gas Monkey years, and it's a shame he's not around for this, because he would've loved this."
The venue's calendar is focused entirely on booking local and touring bands from indie rock to death metal. So far, Amplified has held concerts for rock groups such as the Manchester Orchestra, Cradle of Filth and Thrice. Future shows will feature bands NOFX, Cannibal Corpse, Suicidal Tendencies and Modern English.
"You get concert quality," Mendonsa says, "no matter where you're standing."
Legal contentions rose between Rawlings and Gas Monkey Bar managing partner Daniel Flaherty in a defamation lawsuit in a Dallas County court in 2018. Flaherty accused Rawlings of trying to "escape from his obligations under a valid and enforceable contract" and of attempting to "slander" and create "a campaign of half-baked accusations" against him. Both sides entered into a joint dismissal, announcing that all claims had been resolved and settled in August, according to court records.
Long says the venue can now focus more on bringing music to a part of Dallas that's been quiet for a long time.
"The minute I posted a picture of the sign that went out the other day, it was like a breath of fresh air," Long says. "It was like the whole music industry and the Dallas music scene, everyone started to comment and hitting me up. Throughout the world, there's people who are familiar with this venue and are aware of the changes and this is the supreme spot now."