Last year, many local hard rock fans pinned their hopes on the Backstage Bar & Grill. In July, they'd lost Hell's Kitchen, a club that had been ground zero for the local punk and metal scenes for more than a decade. And the Backstage seemed a likely successor, with its spacious showroom, booming sound system and a penchant for booking heavier acts. But the venue floundered as the year drew to a close before going dark in 2013.
But one of the Backstage's key players is working on its successor in Parkland. The new Rock and Roll Lodge was scheduled to open earlier this month at 9825 Pacific Ave., but there were unforeseen delays.
So we caught up with owner Jeff Lacher to get the skinny.
Tacoma Weekly: Are you guys opening up this weekend?
Lacher: We'd like to be. But it's not up to us. It's up to the Health Department, the Fire Department and the county and the city and all those people. We're just waiting on them to do all their inspections and all that stuff. As soon as they get done with all that, the open sign turns on.
TW: In a nutshell, what are you trying to do over there?
Lacher: We're trying to make a restaurant with kind of a rock and roll museum kind of thing. We also have kind of a lodgey feel where it's all wood.
TW: What kind of bands would you say you plan to cater to?
Lacher: Mostly rock, but we'll have comedy night and probably a jazz night or blues night. But for the most part it will mostly be rock, kind of like how the Backstage was.
TW: What did you learn from that place as you open a new venue?
Lacher: I learned a lot. I'd been a promoter already for 16 years before that. But ... I got a pretty good experience from that, just learning other aspects of how to run a restaurant and bar other than just from a promoter's angle.
TW: But it closed kind of abruptly over there. What exactly happened?
Lacher: The city came in and inspected our grease trap – the environmental health department – and said our grease trap needed to be fixed. Well, we did fix it up, and then they said it's in worse condition, it needs to be fixed more. The repairs on that were going to exceed $20,000, so we figured it might just be easier to relocate, being the business was down anyway.
The deal didn't go through on the sale, unfortunately. It sold, but it fell through kind of a last minute kind of a thing. But we figured we were done with that place and on to the next one.