"LENNYS HELP CRISIS! HELP NOW!" wrote Bean Summer in a hastily penned Aug. 23 bulletin sent out through the MySpace page for Lenny's Bar. In the note he explained that, after six months of warnings that the venerable rock bar would have to move from its 307 Memorial Drive location, the landlord was finally kicking it out. "We been evicted out of the OLD LENNYS tonday [sic] ... by federal marshalls [sic] ... I need anyone with trucks to come to LENNYS now and move stuff to the new place," he wrote.
But when I arrived at the building later that afternoon, there were no federal marshals, just a few employees and friends haphazardly tossing sound equipment, decorations and other ephemera into boxes, and stuffing miscellaneous things into large plastic trashcans. They then made shuttle drives to the new but still dormant Lenny's Bar on 486 Decatur St., or to a nearby Dumpster.
"It's no big deal," said Lenny's Bar co-owner Tracey Brown, who was busy overseeing the move. In between instructing people to move the alcohol to her house for temporary safekeeping, Brown explained that she and co-owner Cathy Martin received a certified letter from the property's landlord, Margaret M. MacKool. The notice gave the duo 48 hours to move out, even though they had several days left on their lease. "Instead of being tied up in lawyer fees, we decided to leave at her request," said Brown. (MacKool could not be reached for comment.)
The eviction was the latest chapter in a messy, protracted relocation. Back in late February, Summer said Lenny's Bar was moving because MacKool planned to sell the land. He promised that a new building was already secured, pending approval from the mayor's office. He posted tantalizing updates on www.lennysbar.com, predicting that the new Lenny's Bar would open shortly.
"We're hopefully going to move in as soon as the mayor signs off on the [liquor license]," said Summer. He apologized for his erroneous MySpace bulletins about the federal marshals. "I guess I didn't get all my facts straight when I heard from [the owners]," he said.
Shortly after the eviction, Summer hurriedly rescheduled the concerts. He successfully moved most of them to places like the Drunken Unicorn (Maserati's Aug. 26 concert), the Earl (Club Awesome's Aug. 30 performance) and even Yo Yo Boutique & Gallery (Deerhunter's opening gig for Maserati). "It shows there's community between local bars and small businesses," he said, grateful that the other clubs helped pick up the shows.
As for the liquor license, media relations officer Catherine Woodling said that the city's License Review Board recommended approval of a liquor license for Lenny's Bar, pending final inspections of the new building.
Martin said that the fire marshal inspected the building last week. The marshal gave the paperwork to her lawyer, who subsequently turned it in to the mayor's office Aug. 28. "The mayor should have all our paperwork by now," said Martin.
The people at Lenny's Bar are cautiously optimistic that the new place will soon be ready. The 486 Decatur St. venue, located in a strip mall near DeKalb Avenue, is two times larger (and much cleaner) than the small and leaky Memorial Drive building. It has a big stage, plenty of room to walk around, and even a DJ/sound booth. Whether it opens now depends on the mayor's office. "We hope to be open by the first week of September," said Martin.
CD RELEASES AND ANNIVERSARIES: Singer/songwriter Doria Roberts records a live album during her Thurs., Aug. 31, concert at Apache Café. ... Hard rock band Greedy White Citizens performs songs from Stereotype on Fri., Sept. 1, at the Loft. Uncrowned and Sub Cam open. ... Hip-hop record store Dumpster Dive celebrates its first anniversary on Sun., Sept. 3, at the Earl. Mars Ill, M-Seize and Intellekt and Dirty Digits perform.