CANTON Josh Brewer’s life has been on lockdown since March 16, 2020, the day his downtown concert hall, The Auricle, was shut down by a COVID-19 state warrant for bars and restaurants.
Eleven months later, due to COVID issues, Brewer refused to reopen, which was no small investment. He bought the building, a former Burger King at 201 Cleveland Ave. NW, for $ 190,000 and spent an additional $ 140,000 to convert it into a concert club, he said.
Despite its long shutdown, The Auricle, which opened in September 2018, is neither dead nor gone and plans are underway for outdoor concerts in the summer.
“We’re just lying there, in hibernation, keeping our heads down until things get better,” Brewer said.
Prior to COVID, The Auricle had done solid business, booking a mix of national and regional musical acts, drag shows, comedy and more. Known for its crystal-clear sound system and range of craft beers, the club’s last event was a March 5 concert by the national act The Get Up Kids which drew around 200 fans.
“We were doing great,” Brewer said. “My CPA told me we had our best year of 2019.” Prior to its current location, The Auricle operated for seven years, starting in 2011, in the Metropolitan Center basement at 601 Cleveland Ave NW.
Fewer tour deeds to book
Brewer, 35, said his reasons for keeping The Auricle closed are a mix of professional and personal concerns.
“I could have technically reopened, but I couldn’t have had paid events, that’s how I make all my money,” Brewer said.
Due to state-imposed COVID-19 rules, “I would have only been allowed to have 15% of my seating capacity, which equates to 23 people. The events would have cost me more money than I did. could earn some, and I wasn’t going to start charging $ 70 a ticket. Plus, no one was on tour. “
Beyond finances, “In the end, I resisted the longest because I didn’t want to help spread COVID,” Brewer said. “This has been my first and foremost worry. People going to bars have contributed to the wide spread of COVID. There have been a few times that I have thought of opening on Fridays and Saturdays only, but then we would have peaks (in cases). “
And so The Auricle remained closed with no income generated and Brewer’s expenses for the club remained at around $ 2,500 per month, including mortgage, insurance, and utilities.
Brewer’s unemployment is depleted and his personal savings are depleted, he said, and he has done various DIY jobs. His wife, Allison, has a full-time job and teaches ballet part-time.
“I feel like I have become the (housewife) where I do the dishes, the laundry and cook dinner and a shaken martini for her when she comes home with her towel,” he said. he declares.
Loans and future prospects for The Auricle
What allowed Brewer to continue shutting down The Auricle for good despite growing expenses were several grants and a loan. Auricle received two small business grants from the city of Canton, which he declined to quote, and an EIDL advance grant of $ 7,000 from the SBA. Brewer also took out a 30-year EIDL loan, the amount of which he refused to disclose.
Brewer hopes he will receive a grant for the SBA’s closed site operators, which would represent 45% of Auricle’s revenue as of 2019.
“There’s probably a 70-80% chance that I’ll get it,” he said. “You are authorized to use this money for the operation of the site.”
Brewer’s brother Nick, who handles sound and lighting for Auricle’s concerts, was sorely missed at the club’s musical events.
“One of my favorite things to do in the world is play sound in front of the house. It makes me feel like part of the band,” said Nick Brewer. “I miss seeing people there and enjoying what’s happening on stage. I miss the fun and the camaraderie with the bands.”
Cody J. Martin, a local singer-songwriter, said: “I really missed the concerts, and especially at The Auricle. . Many of my most favorite and important shows have been performed on the Auricle Stage. I also saw my last show there before closing. “
Looking to the future, said Brewer, he’s working with Celebrity Etc. to book outdoor summer concerts on Second Street NW, next to the Auricle, using the Kempthorn portable stage. Drinks would be sold on the Auricle patio.
“The pot at the end of the rainbow, if we get there there will be such an overflow of bands trying to perform and book shows everywhere,” Brewer said. “And we will be here with open arms.”
Contact Dan at 330-580-8306 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @dkaneREP