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Postcards From The Pandemic: Grog Shop Seeks County Dollars To Survive

Grog Shop owner Kathy Blackman is applying for county dollars to keep the Cleveland Heights music club afloat. [Boss Ladies of CLE / Ryan Gerard]
Grog Shop Owner Kathy Blackman is applying for county dollars to keep the Cleveland Heights music club afloat.

The Grog Shop is applying for aid from the county — something typically not available to for-profit arts venues. But nothing is typical these days.

A packed Grog Shop crowd pre-covid. [Grog Shop]

This month, the Cleveland Heights music club just began an in-person, weekly concert series for a 40-person crowd, which is only about 10% of normal attendance and Grog Shop owner Kathy Blackman says it won't pay the bills.

An empty Grog Shop stage. [Grog Shop]

Closed Since March

The Grog Shop has been closed since March 13th. Our only source of income really was T- shirts and some fundraising efforts.

Think about it, it's been seven plus months and we've got expenses.

Grog Shop owner Kathy Blackman in the venue's band room. [Grog Shop]

My savings is dwindling.

So once we are able to reopen in a more normal manner, we have to have startup funds again, which is kind of terrifying after 28 years in business, to think that you need startup money again.

There was a point, maybe four months ago, that I considered, “Is this even worth it? Is it worth it for me to beg, borrow and steal for the next six months to a year to just be back at square one?”

And I said, “You know, maybe it's better to say I had a good run and go out on top.”

Hold On 'Til Spring

Now I'm sort of thinking, “Can I make it to next spring?” And then once I do make it to next spring, what if we can't open like normal? And I just don't know that we will be able to.

We actually opened last week for a small, socially distant Thursday night series that we're doing once a week now through the end of the year.

Grog Shop owner Kathy Blackman in the crowd at a sparse, socially distanced concert in September. [Grog Shop]

It's bizarre because everybody's sitting at a table with their masks on, you know, they sit politely and watch a band.

Additional Funding Needed

If there was some additional funding that sort of supplemented the normal income that you'd make from selling beers and tickets and whatnot, it would help to keep the doors open.

Rose petals on the Grog Shop floor [Grog Shop]

If things don't get back to normal, if there is really no ability to gather en masse and not be so reserved as we are today, I will have to rethink it.

[The reopening plan] was spring and then it was summer, and now it's fall 2021. And obviously, the longer that gets pushed back, the more the bills pile up.

So the money will help to offset all those costs and to hopefully let us open our doors again, once that happens.





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@thegrogshop Seeks county dollars to survive. #saveourstages #postcardsfromthepandemic

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Dave DeOreo is coordinating producer for Ideastream Public Media’s arts and culture team.