What has already been a tough year for iconic local-music institutions just got even tougher: The Longbranch Saloon, Raleigh's long-running country nightclub, has closed its doors after a run of more than two decades. This past weekend was its last.
Over the years, Billy Ray Cyrus and Garth Brooks were among the many rising country acts to play the Longbranch on their way up. But the club had struggled in recent years. A $300,000 renovation to meet fire and building code violations in 2006 tightened its margins, leading to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy declaration in February. Ultimately, changes in the local entertainment were too much to overcome.
"The economy is bad, country-music competition is everywhere, the bottom line for this place is huge and it's just too expensive," says office manager Shelle McCollum. "We have loyal customers who come out every weekend. But with a venue this size, it just was not enough."
We'll have more in Tuesday's paper....
ADDENDUM (7/8/08): ...and here it is.