Almost a year to the date after Club Dada unceremoniously shuttered its doors under its last ownership regime, a team of investors led by City Tavern owner Josh Florence has signed a new five-year lease on the historic venue.
On Monday, workers will enter the building to begin work on the renovations that will be ongoing until the club re-opens.
According to Florence, Dada's re-opening could happen as soon late October. His main hope, Florence told DC9, is to get the venue back up and running by the end of 2010.
Regardless of its opening date, big changes are in store for the venue. Starting Monday morning, the team of workers charged with renovating the space will begin by demolishing the men's bathroom and the main bar, which currently sit in the middle of the main room.
Other changes include renovations to the patio and to the former green room, which, under the last regime, was renovated into a second performance space called "The Listening Room." That "Listening Room" space, Florence says, will be converted into a restaurant.
For Florence, who for a time toyed with the idea of investing in Dada's last regime, the move comes after City Tavern's most successful fiscal years to date, and at a time when he feels expansion to a second, larger space--and specifically one still focusing on live music--felt right.
"We went all over town," he says. "Downtown, Bishop Arts, Uptown--all over the place. We looked at all of our options."
Dada, he says, affords him and his partners the opportunity to work with a larger performance area, as well as the chance to be a part of the growing Deep Ellum community.
"I've been watching Deep Ellum since Day One," he says. "Not just Dada, but Deep Ellum. That's where I fell in love with live music and the people involved in it. And the neighborhood's moving in the right direction."
Dada currently sits as the lone vacant storefront on a re-energized Elm Street block. That same block served as a major centerpiece in the neighborhood's re-vitalization of '80s (and through on to the early '00s), when Deep Ellum returned to the musical roots it had developed when it became a nationally revered blues haven in the early 1900s. Before closing last summer, Dada was one of the few open storefronts on that same stretch of road. Since then, the block has seen the re-openings of Trees, The Bone and The Green Room, as well as the openings of La Grange, Lemongrass, The Boiler Room and The Black Swan.
Immediate plans for renovations include moving the bar and men's bathroom to the main room's far left side, so as to open up as much floor space as possible for performances. The stage will remain by the front, right corner of the room. Meanwhile, a kitchen will be installed in the "Listening Room," which will serve as separate sit-down bar/restaurant and exist under the same Club Dada umbrella (not unlike recent expansion at La Grange).
"To stay current, you've got to update the space," Florence says. "Part of that is the food piece. The age demographic in Deep Ellum isn't what it used to be. People want to make a night out of it, instead of people that will go down there and not eat dinner. It really is a different place these days."
The back patio will be re-furbished with some "decking," Florence says, and will see its stage, which was torn down in the wake of the last ownership regime, re-built. Other changes in store for the room include an upgraded sound system, and a re-painting of the venue's front facade. The facade's recognizable "faces," as well as the neon sign hanging above, will remain.
"We're going to be walking the fine line of maintaining the integrity of Club Dada and what it's always been and respecting its history, and bringing it up to date," says Florence. "That's the goal."
In next week's print issue, we'll have more information on the re-opened Club Dada, and, because this is the Observer, on what this means for the continued revitalization of Deep Ellum.
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