Stephanie Schumacher balks a little when admitting that, yes, she is putting La Grange up for sale less than two years after opening her Deep Ellum music venue, restaurant and bar.
"Well," she says with a sigh, "it's kind of been for sale since Day One. That's what I like to do. I'm an entrepreneur."
Still, she admits, both she and her co-owner, husband Rob Schumacher, are now ready to move on. Mostly, she says, it's because they're worn out.
Since opening on December 30, 2009 -- and that's not counting the months and months of construction and planning leading up to the venue's debut -- Stephanie says that both she and Rob have been consumed by the venue, and more so than they originally expected.
Granted, much of the burden on their shoulders has been put there by themselves -- shortly after opening, they expanded the venue, buying out the lease of the vacant storefront next to theirs and converting the space into a restaurant shared with the main bar and stage room. But, a year or so into their marriage and with a young family to look after, Stephanie says the Schumachers are looking for a little less fast-paced of a lifestyle.
"It's an exhaustion point," she says, now laughing. "It's just that time. There's always a time to fold 'em. This is it. We want our lives back."
But, Schumacher (nee Houston) is quick to point out, this doesn't necessarily mean the end of La Grange. At least, she hopes not.
The hope, Schumacher says, is that someone buys the room and keeps it open, with only a few signed pieces of paper to show for the change in hands.
"We started knowing we were going to eventually sell it," Schumacher says. "When we wrote the business plan, we had an exit strategy."
Much of that exit strategy was built around turning La Grange into a collection of assets that someone else would deem as valuable -- the furnished patio, the glass garage door that serves as the storefront for the venue, the soundsystem, the high-definition video projector and screen, the design of the bar, the next-door restaurant, the kitchen, all of it.
"Adding in the kitchen really turned it into a whole product," Schumacher says. "There's value there. We've got real assets here."
And, Schumacher says, she's not the only one who thinks so. Already, she's met with a few potential buyers for the space.
"Everyone that we've talked to has come right over," she says. "The interest has been high, which is good. And the interest had been fast, which is also good. That kind of tells me that we've reached our goal."
With the venue closing in on its two-year anniversary, though, Schumacher swears that she won't simply sell the joint off to just anybody. She's still optimistic about Deep Ellum, she says. She's proud of opening up a nicer room in the traditionally grittier Deep Ellum neighborhood. She's proud of being a part of Deep Ellum's latest revival. She doesn't want that all to be for naught.
"We want someone to come along and take what we have to the next level," she says. "That's what this space needs. What we don't want is a dark spot on Elm Street."
So, for now at least, she and Rob are committed to not letting that happen.
"The House of Blues has been up for sale for years, and it hasn't gone anywhere," Schumacher notes, making it clear that, just because she's entertaining offers, doesn't mean she's shutting down the venue in the near future, if at all. "[This sale] could take two years. It could take two days. I don't know. But I do know that we have put a lot of time and money into this place, and also that we have a good reputation. We have a good product for sale here."
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