The never-officially-opened Old City nightclub Barataria and its hypothetical companion tapas restaurant bos lafitte are now in “a holding pattern,” says event coordinator Dustin Basalla. In other words, it’s not happening—yet. The delay comes as a result of some unforeseen cash flow problems.
“We just had a major investor pull out,” says Basalla. The unnamed investor, who Basalla says is a family friend of the club’s owner Nathan Brown (who’s also a co-owner of Unarmed Merchants), had to pull his interest in the club after some big hits in the recently dismal stock market.
Despite some promising pre-opening events, including a handful of well-attended shows this fall—the Oct. 17 Jazz for Justice concert and a Halloween party with headliners Cutthroat Shamrock, to name two—the venue, located in the old Blue Cats/Tonic complex on Jackson Avenue is still open for private parties, but it’s cancelled all of its upcoming public events. That includes a planned New Year’s Eve show with Scott Miller and the Commonwealth.
“There’s no way we could have afforded Scott Miller’s rider,” Basalla says.
Last week, a note about the cancellation was posted on the message board section of Miller’s website, thescottmiller.com. Miller says he and his booking agent, Steve Hoiberg in Nashville, have discussed an alternate location for the show, but it seems unlikely any arrangements will be made on such short notice. Miller has performed in Knoxville on New Year’s Eve every year since 1990, with the exception of 1991, the year after his former band the V-Roys broke up.
“The date was confirmed,” Hoiberg says. “We had issued contracts, which in my mind means it was a done deal. That’s how things are done in this business. When it came time to pay his deposit, he suddenly did not have the money.”
Basalla says “nothing was ever signed” but also says that the show was being organized by an unidentified third party. “We were supposed to pay a deposit,” he says. “The deadline came and I told her I couldn’t do it. I haven’t personally talked to Scott Miller or his management.”
Basalla and Brown remain hopeful, and committed to seeing the venue through—especially Brown, who just sold a tract of land he inherited from his family in North Carolina, says Basalla. Basalla wouldn’t disclose how much money Barataria still needs, nor if there’s a tentative opening date yet, except to say that it’s getting close.
“We have our beer license,” he says. “We’re still working on getting our liquor license for the restaurant, but, you know, with the economy right now, everything is on hold.”