Detroit Bar Closing, Turning Into a Gastropub: Update

Categories: Venue News

Keith May
ORIGINAL POST, JAN.13, 6 a.m.: Say goodbye to Detroit Bar.

We're sad to tell you that one of our longtime favorite Costa Mesa haunts has been sold. Over the weekend, news broke that Memphis Group--which opened the club in 2001-- is handing over the the strip mall nightclub to new ownership which will turn it into yet another hip gastropub. Under new owner/local restauranteur Jeff Chon, the bar is to be re-branded as The Wayfarer--A House of Social Provisions. The date for the changeover isn't set yet, though nothing is booked on Detroit's calendar after the Fu Manchu gig on Feb. 8.

Are we sad? You bet. Surprised? Not really.

Though it had quite a good run as a hot spot for OC music, nightlife and surprise shows, there's no arguing Detroit's best days were already behind it. With rehabbed venues The Observatory (owned by former Detroit Bar co-owner and talent buyer Jon Reiser) and the Yost popping up in recent years to attract most of our viable local talent, and the relevant national acts, Detroit's ability to corner that market started to vanish despite some valiant efforts on their part to keep the engine running.

Over the years, Detroit's contribution to OC music has been immense. From the creation of club nights like Dubtroit or La Boite Funke and Abstract Workshop to hosting the OC Music Awards showcases and garnering shows by Modest Mouse, Stereolab, various members of the Wu-Tang Clan and many other huge acts, its presence has indeed made a mark to be remembered when it's gone. Call it evolution, or natural selection--we call it a damn shame.

The new restaurant is supposedly going to continue to book live shows, though we're not sure of the format. Whatever is decided, it's at least good that new owner Chon--who also runs Newport Beach restaurant the Alley and Costa Mesa's Tabu Shabu--is keeping music as a partial focus of the new place.

"We are thrilled the legacy of live music will continue at the location," says Memphis CEO Dan Bradley. As of now, his company plans to concentrate more on their other businesses, including Memphis restaurants, Memphis Catering and Events division and the Tin Lizzie Saloon. We'll keep you posted as more information develops.

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UPDATE: JAN. 13, 4:53 P.M.: According to a press release from Detroit Bar and the Wayfarer, the new direction of the venue will continue to discover local Orange County bands and performers in all genres from independent rock to jazz to local DJ talent. In addition, the Wayfarer will now feature classic pub fare with a culinary twist and will be open seven days a week. An eclectic collection of spirits, locally brewed craft beers, and hand-crafted cocktails will also be available in the redesigned space. Design by OC architect Jorden Segraves, will feature a touch of Americana and rustic flair. The projected opening is set for summer of 2014.

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