Tracie Hunte, Assistant Producer, WNYC News
Tracie Hunte is an Assistant Producer in the WNYC Newsroom.
A gritty New Brunswick, N.J, rock club is getting an encore.
Michael Barrood, the new owner of the Court Tavern, which shuttered in January after 30 years of spotlighting the Garden State’s raucous music scene, says he hopes to re-open the venue in September.
“It will still be the Court Tavern,” Barrood said. “I’m doing a face lift and opening it back up. It’s going to be the same exact venue it was.”
Barrood bought the bar in May.
The news that the owner of Mike’s Courtside, a sports bar nearby, bought the Court Tavern apparently filled some regulars with anxiety — both about the future of the bar and the live music scene in New Brunswick. He says there were rumors he would change it from the type of place that once featured bands such as the Smithereens and the Gaslight Anthem into something completely different.
“Everyone was pretty upset,” Barrood recalled. “And then when I finally came out and told everyone that I was re-opening the Court Tavern to almost exactly what it was, but a lot nicer. I think everybody was very happy.”
The bar’s sudden closure in January shocked and saddened music lovers. It was the latest in a long list of rock clubs, including the Melody Bar and the Roxy, to disappear from the college town. At the time, the Court Tavern’s previous owner, Bob Albert, owed approximately $44,000 in back taxes, water and sewer bills. But a spokesman for New Brunswick Mayor Jim Cahill at the time said it wasn’t anything that would force the city to close the venue. For his part, Albert, refused to explain what happened.
Meanwhile, the Court Tavern’s new owner says he’s giving the bar a much-needed upgrade, following years of neglect that left the floors rotting and the kitchen unusable.
As for who’ll play opening night, that remains to be seen.