Thursday, August 25, 2005

My Neck Hurts

An article in the Chapel Hill section of the Durham Herald-Sun made me do so many double-takes that I think I've given myself whiplash. The space behind/below the Bank of America Plaza that was for years the Ram Triple cinema has for the last few years been a succession of less-than-successful nightclubs and it looks like someone is trying again with The Sandbar.
"We're going to have it like it's spring break every night," said Jason East, one of the owners of the club.
Drunk, mostly nekkid 19-year-olds pouring beer on each other? Okay sounds like the parties that I used to have... OK, that I used to crash... all right, that I used to hear about from other people, but need I remind these guys that the drinking age is 21 now?
"If you look on the Internet at clubs in big cities, the beach theme is the hottest theme in clubs around the world right now," said East.
And we all know how much people in Chapel Hill like to follow the backside of big-city trends.
East, who was also part owner of Kryptonite and a smaller club next door, Bedz, said the new theme would help attract more of the college crowd. He said both Kryptonite and Bedz--which is still open, but might be redone with a Moroccan theme -- foundered because they catered to a young professional crowd that does not really exist in Chapel Hill.
So he's right about there not being much of a young pro crowd in Chapel Hill - their place in the economic food chain is taken up by grad students who can't afford many nights out at the clubs and when they do, probably aren't going to be attracted to the kind of place Jason wants to have. And I'm sure the beach thing will work for a time with the younger crowd - it worked for a little while in the old Town Hall/Mad Hatter space on Franklin Street (am I the only person that remembers Jaspers Beach Party?) but need I say again that the drinking age is 21 now?
"As soon as school got out, the town was dead," said East. "We didn't realize Chapel Hill is strictly a college town."
This one caused half a cup of coffee to be violently ejected through my nose. No explanation necessary.
Dolan added that The Sandbar will feel "less dangerous" and "antiseptic" than Kryptonite, which had dark walls, leather couches and chrome and neon accents.
So if there was any question about whether I'm in his target demographic, that was answered in the preceding 'graph with a resounding "Hell, no!". Guess I should have checked out Kryptonite while it was still open.
East and Dolan both hope the new club will do a better job attracting college students.
Who, uh, won't be able to legally drink there of course until they're seniors. And then the kicker...
Women ages 18 and older and men 21 and older will be admitted.
First of all, is that even legal?!?! Second of all,... no, wait a minute, I'm not ready to move on yet - is that even legal?! Really. You're sure? And I didn't freakin' think of that when I owned a bar in Chapel Hill? Dammit!

All joking aside, I wish Jason and his partners much luck. Having been in that business myself, it's tough to even break even, much less make a living (so they say - I never even came close). You do have to have some kind of a hook and I know that there is a big difference between what attracts the townies and grad students (who were our main customers, even when the drinking age was 18) and the undergrads. This just sounds like a recipe for disaster, where either the intent is to sell to underage kids or they'll spend all their time and a lot of money trying to prevent sales to underage kids. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely believe that the drinking age ought to be 18 (maybe the subject of another post some day) but it's not. I'll be interested in seeing how long The Sandbar manages to hang on and maybe I'll put on my Corona jams and my puka shells and go check it out for myself. On second thought, I think I'll wait for the Moroccan makeover at Bedz. Think they'll rename it "Fez"?


At 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As soon as school got out, the town was dead," said East. "We didn't realize Chapel Hill is strictly a college town."

WTF? Has this guy ever been to Chapel Hill? Or did he believe the rumors about the constuction of an Amalgamated Widgets factory on the site of the Horace Williams Airport?

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

"We didn't realize that Chapel Hill is strictly a college town."

Clearly needed to do a little homework first. Did they actually visit the town?

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Lex said...

You sure today isn't April 1?


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