Marianne Taylor has been booking and collecting money at the door of Hideaway BBQ since the Capital Boulevard restaurant and music venue opened its doors Oct. 13, 2006. On Saturday, Jan. 19, with a show by Georgia band Delta Moon, she'll sit by the door and pay the band at night's end one last time. The restaurant closed for business Jan. 1, as the News & Observer reported Wednesday night, but it will continue hosting live music under Taylor's supervision for the next two weeks.
Nevertheless, five days after Taylor learned she was out of a job as the club's chief booking agent, she still saluted the vision of founder and owner Palmer Stacy, who she calls "the biggest music fan I've ever met." Stacy hoped to establish a combination restaurant and music club modeled after Stubb's Bar-B-Que in Austin, Texas. He hoped Raleigh could have a consistent home for the roots music he loved. He filled the menu with beef brisket, roadhouse slaw and fried catfish, and he covered the walls in country music memorabilia from his private collection. Taylor filled the lineup with top quality Americana: From Southern Culture on the Skids and Billy Joe Shaver to Tres Chicas and John Doe, Hideaway BBQ was becoming a must-play destination. Taylor attributes a large part of the charm to Stacy.
"There's a lot of difference between a bar owner that has music and a music lover that has a bar," says Taylor. "Every band that played here, whether he liked the genre or not, he bought merchandise from them."
Stacy says the financial woes for Hideaway have been nearly constant from the start. When Taylor headed to South by Southwest last March, a general manager told her the restaurant would possibly be closed before she returned. Taylor speculates that the location of the restaurant stymied traffic, and high costs upfront coupled with monthly upkeep fees ultimately made it clear that Hideaway couldn't sustain itself. Stacy says he overestimated gross profits relative to the overhead of the new building.
"I always told people that I was tired of going to music venues that were dirty old boxes," says Stacy, a practicing attorney who had no experience running restaurants but was involved in a small Hillsborough Street Americana club called The Hideaway several years ago. "But now I know they're that way for a reason."
Stacy says the typical mid-sized music venue (Hideaway held 300 people) pays a few thousand dollars in rent and utilities each month, and even small rock clubs, as in the Triangle, are having trouble staying open. His monthly costs, he adds, were "three or four times that."
"You can't build a nice, new building and compete, especially when it's tough all around," says Stacy, who will begin leasing the space later this year. "Live music in mid-sized venues is closing everywhere."
At least the music portion of Stacy's endeavor was paying for itself. It just wasn't spilling over into already slow food and beverage sales the way Stacy and Taylor had hoped.
"The people that came to see the shows would eat and drink, and that would help keep the restaurant open," says Taylor. "But [the money] that came in the door wasn't helping keep the restaurant open."
Despite Hideaway's end, Taylor says she's proud of the work she did with Stacy there, and the community response to the bands playing the club told her that people in the Triangle do want to hear this music. She already had shows booked through April, and the gigs will proceed as planned at Berkeley Cafe and Lincoln Theatre, starting with a performance by Wayne "The Train" Hancock at Berkeley Cafe on Friday, Jan. 25.
Taylor started booking roots-music shows in the Triangle in February 2004 after returning to Raleigh from Nashville. Her first two bills at The Pour House—Tony Rice with Peter Rowan, followed by Jerry Jeff Walker two days later—were among the club's biggest. Taylor started booking several shows per week at The Pour House, but she left the club to become Hideaway's full-time booking agent in September 2006. Though The Pour House signed a new lease several months ago, Taylor says she doesn't regret her decision to move to Hideaway BBQ.
"The 15 months I booked at Hideaway were the best of my life," says Taylor. "I'm really sad about it. But I understand that Palmer couldn't keep going, so we turn the page."
You can still catch these shows at Hideaway BBQ: Friday, Jan. 4: The Coal Men, Mando Saenz, Possum Jenkins; Saturday, Jan. 5: The Cadillac Stepbacks; Friday, Jan. 11: Enter the Haggis; Saturday, Jan. 12: Mike Farris (6 p.m.); Saturday, Jan. 12: Midlife Crisis (9:30 p.m.); Friday, Jan. 18: Bombadil; Saturday, Jan. 19: Delta Moon and the Filmore Valley Boys. These shows have been moved to The Berkeley Café: Friday, Jan. 25: Wayne "The Train" Hancock; Tuesday, Jan. 29: The Asylum Street Spankers; Thursday, Jan. 31: Malcolm Holcombe. The Saturday, Jan. 26, show with Don Dixon & the Jump Rabbits and Tad Dreis has been moved to Lincoln Theatre.