The saga of now-closed Allston rock club Great Scott entered a new chapter this week, and this one involves another revival effort and, crucially, pizza. Allston’s Rock City Pizza would be making the food at the potential new Great Scott, which should allow the venue to open sooner than it would have otherwise under the state’s current COVID-19 guidelines. (Venues that don’t prepare food onsite are stuck in phase four of the reopening plan, which won’t begin until there’s a vaccine or effective treatment.)
Former Great Scott booking agent Carl Lavin — who’s behind a crowdfunding effort to save the legendary rock club, so far raising more than $200,000 from more than 500 investors — recently announced that the club may be reborn in the former Regina Pizzeria space on Cambridge Street in Allston. This location of Regina closed in July in a move that was reportedly purely related to the end of its lease, not to the pandemic. It’s a sizable space with a bit of an Allston rarity: a parking lot.
“I’m proud to say that we’ve entered into negotiations with the landlord of the former location of Pizzeria Regina, whose roots and passion for Allston have proven undeniable over the years,” Lavin wrote on Great Scott’s Mainvest page. “Additionally, we’ve been working with a well-known locally-owned pizzeria to partner on the location so that Great Scott will be able to work to reopen as a loyal Allstonian hub for the arts and watering hole and before Phase 4 of reopening, to help secure our long-term success.”
Lavin recently told WBUR that he’s a 7.5 out of 10 in terms of confidence that the project will work out and Great Scott will indeed reopen.
“The landlord and ownership are on board,” Lavin told WBUR. “All I need to be able to do is make sure it’s not going to cost seven figures. I have no idea of the cost yet, but I’m very confident we’ll move forward. The biggest thing to figure out is how much it’s going to cost to do the buildout to make the space into a venue without that being astronomically prohibitive.”
News of Great Scott’s closure broke on May 1. Initial reporting indicated that property owners Oak Hill Properties LLC declined to renew the venue’s lease, but it was later revealed that the situation was more complicated than that. According to Vanyaland, Oak Hill Properties LLC engaged in a months-long correspondence with Great Scott owner Frank Strenk, requesting that he change his business model and sound-proof the venue in order to avoid noise complaints from neighbors, which were apparently plentiful.
The property owners made a long-term lease offer — Great Scott had been on a month-to-month agreement for years — but Strenk declined, opting instead to close the venue permanently. Weeks later, Lavin — as Chowderquake, LLC — purchased Great Scott’s liquor license, gear, and intellectual property from Strenk.
The crowdfunding effort was meant to save the venue at its original home at 1222 Commonwealth Ave., where it had existed, in one capacity or another, since 1976. So when it was announced in June that Oak Hill Properties LLC found a new tenant for the space, it seemed as though Great Scott was doomed to the dustbin of Boston music history, following the path forged by so many other iconic music venues that have closed before it.
For now, at least, that no longer seems like the case.
• Great Scott Campaign Eyes Former Regina Pizzeria Space for Allston Venue [V]
• Not Gone Yet — Great Scott Eyes Allston Regina Pizzeria Location For New Club [WBUR]
• Regina Pizzeria in Allston Is Closing for Good [BOS]
• Allston’s Great Scott Is Closing Permanently After Nearly Half a Century [EBOS]
• Great Scott, a Boston Rock Club Institution, Will Not Re-Open After Coronavirus [V]
• Oak Hill Properties LLC Finds New Tenant for Great Scott Space in Allston [V]