After fourteen years, the South Broadway rock venue 3 Kings Tavern has closed for good.
Marty Killorin, who opened the club with Jim Norris and Jeff Campbell in early 2006, says that he and Campbell were running out of money and have been behind on rent during the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“I could come out of pocket to pay it, but it’s kind of like throwing out good money after bad,” Killorin says. “But these things happen. It was a good fourteen-year run, but nobody could really see this coming.”
Even before the pandemic hit, rents were skyrocketing in the Baker neighborhood and business was slow, Killorin says. Plenty of surrounding businesses had already boarded up.
“It made it kind of harder, so things were a little thinner,” he explains. “But it was still survivable, and I still wanted to be able to sell it and walk away from my investment with something. But that's not what happened.”
Killorin says that he and Campbell had plans to sell just over a year ago, but the deal fell through.
Norris, whose share in 3 Kings was bought by Campbell and Killorin not long after he took over Mutiny Information Cafe about four years ago, says that he envisioned 3 Kings as something like the CBGB of the West, a spot that could encourage a local music scene and bands touring the country in their vans.
“Then things kind of took on a life of their own, so we ended up making a lot of our history taking care of local bands and building really great local lineups," says Norris. "That ended up being the focal point."
Before taking over the former Cherry Pit location in late 2005 and opening 3 Kings in January 2006, the three partners had worked at Nobody in Particular Presents, which was booking shows at the Ogden Theatre and Bluebird Theater at the time. Killorin had heard that the spot at 60 South Broadway was for sale from Railbenders' bassist Tyson Murray. When Killorin first saw the venue, he thought it was perfect: It had stage capabilities, a bar and a room that could be separate from the music room.
"The backstage was right behind the stage," he says. "We had a cutout in the alley where people could load in their vans, and they could load in straight directly backstage. The layout was just perfect. And it had enough bar that during the day we could be a bar."
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Killorin says the timing of opening 3 Kings Tavern was pretty amazing, as both the area and the music scene were on an upswing. "We got in at a really good time and had great local support and great neighbors," he recalls. "It couldn't have been any better. I just wish it didn't end the way it did."
During the venue's run, 3 Kings had a loyal group of employees. "It was amazing," Killorin says. "I know a lot of bar and restaurant owners, and a lot of them complain about turnover, and we just didn't have that. We had good, solid people."
Killorin says he has no idea what will happen to the space, and he predicts that a lot of bars and restaurants will go on sale in the near future because of the pandemic.
"There's going to be a real estate issue," he says. "That thing could sit for who knows how long."