Deep South The Bar, a downtown live-music nightspot for more than a decade, will close at the end of the year.
New Year’s Eve will be the club’s final night. Owner Dave Rose, who has one young child and another on the way, cited family obligations as his primary reason for stepping away.
“The top reason is this new season in my life as a father,” Rose said in an interview. “I’ll be sad to see it go because it has a lot of my personal history. But owning a bar is a round-the-clock job, even if you’re not there all the time.”
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Deep South Entertainment, Rose’s artist-management and concert-production operations, will continue. Rose has a satellite Nashville office and represents clients like North Carolina country singer Kasey Tyndall. He also plans to continue booking the Homegrown Music Fest at the North Carolina State Fair, the concerts that feature state acts.
But the club is winding down. Deep South opened in 2007 at 430 S. Dawson St. at West Cabarrus Street, the former site of a series of bars including Kulture and VIP. Before that, it had also been a Suzuki dealership.
Deep South entered the scene just as downtown’s current building boom was beginning. The Raleigh Convention Center opened a year later, and Red Hat Amphitheater followed across the street in 2010.
With a legal capacity of 99 people, Deep South fast became an accessible stage for brand new acts, thanks to its regular open-mic nights. In recent years, it has also been a club venue for festivals, including Hopscotch Music Festival and World of Bluegrass.
But Raleigh’s growth has caused the real-estate landscape to change. Empire Properties, which already owns several parcels in that area, paid $1.85 million in June to buy much of the block that holds Deep South, according to Wake County property records. The block includes next door’s Fiction Kitchen restaurant and Mad Ethel’s Tattoo & Body Piercing.
“There’s a newly proposed lease, and I can’t comment on specifics beyond saying it did not fit my current business model,” Rose said. “I would have needed to add food or something like that.”
Ultimately, Rose opted to close instead.
“We offered him a really good lease and he thought about it,” said Greg Hatem, owner of Empire Properties, which has bought and redeveloped several historic properties in downtown Raleigh. Hatem’s Empire Eats also owns several restaurants, including The Pit, Sitti and Raleigh Times.
“But he mentioned factors, and one was that the rent had to go up,” Hatem said. “The convergence of him being a dad, us buying the building and the bar business being rough was enough.”
Hatem said Fiction Kitchen and Mad Ethel’s Tattoo & Body Piercing have both signed letters of intent and are working through lease details. He did not yet know what might occupy the Deep South space.
“Downtown Raleigh is growing, becoming a great spot to be,” said Rose. “A lot of people want to be down there and something great will go into that spot because it’s a great location.”
Staff writer Zachery Eanes contributed to this report.