It's been almost three years since Kings went under the bulldozer, cleared away to make room for what might be the ugliest parking garage ever built. And while various other venues have done a fine job picking up the slack, there's no denying that the local music scene has been missing an important focal point since the spring of 2007.
But not for much longer. A bigger, more ambitious Kings is in the works for the space at 14 W. Martin St. -- which has had a number of star-crossed incarnations including Martin Street Music Hall. The new Kings will be part of a triplex with a live-performance space upstairs, a restaurant at street level and a bar downstairs in the basement.
"The restaurant will likely be called The Garland, after the Garland Jones Building that was torn down," says Kings co-owner Ben Barwick. "The nightclub part will be Kings. And we've not settled on a name yet for the basement. The music room won't be open every night, just when we have shows. I think there'll be three or four a week. Unlike the old Kings, we don't have to have something every single night."
Back in the day, Kings was a key incubator of both local and national talent. It was home turf for Rosebuds, while the Avett Brothers and Mastodon were among many acts from farther afield that played the club on their way up. Maximum crowd size is still to be determined, but capacity should be at least as much as the old room's 200 -- and with better sightlines, so that everyone in the room can actually see the stage.
Also still up in the air is the opening date. The ownership group of Barwick, Steve Popson, Cheetie Kumar and Paul Siler hope that happens in June, although that's a target date Barwick concedes "might be overly optimistic."
"We'll do our best because every month we're not open is another month we're paying rent and bills without revenue," Barwick says. "It would be uncanny if it were pushed to July, though. The old Kings opened on July 2, 1999. That would be interesting, to open again exactly 11 years later."