Lafayette venue and restaurant Nissi's
opened in 2006, and entrepreneur Marc Gitlin took it over three years later. But in early 2020, Gitlin couldn't come to an agreement for a lease extension, so he started scouting for other locations and found a building at Lafayette Crossings, which he says was vacant for thirteen years.
On the afternoon of March 12, 2020, Gitlin reached an agreement with the new landlords on all the provisions of the lease.
"And that night, we went for dinner in downtown Boulder," Gitlin says. "My wife and I toasted to it. We came home, and Tom Hanks made his announcement that he had COVID, and the whole world changed. I never did sign that lease. And, of course, they never renewed my old lease.
"I was caught in the vortex between two leases, which is good, but I was also devastated that I thought I was done until the vaccine came," he continues. "I didn't have the terrible consequences a lot of people had, but I also had lost my livelihood."
Gitlin stayed in touch with the landlord, and once the vaccine was widely distributed, he applied for a Shuttered Venue Operators grant, part of $16 billion in grants administered by the Small Business Administration's Office of Disaster Assistance. The grant has made it possible for him to reopen at the new 1455 Coal Creek Drive location in the spring of 2022.
The new space, which is about three times bigger than Nissi's previous location, is currently being renovated, and Gitlin says there's a lot of work to be done, as the kitchen, stage and sound booth all need to be updated and cleaned up. While the capacity at the new location is 500 standing, Gitlin says it can seat around 400 people.
The new Nissi's space in Lafayette.
"My old place had more of a supper club feel, but this place will be more of a concert venue," Gitlin says. "I'll be able to have more national acts come through. I used to do a lot of cover bands, tribute bands, jazz nights, blues — I was all over the place. I'm still going to be, but now I could bring in bigger acts with bigger followings and be able to combine them. That's exciting."
Gitlin says the previous Nissi's location had kind of a sophisticated urban feel to it, particularly for being in Lafayette. "My biggest compliment was always, 'What a cool place for Lafayette,'" he recalls. "This new place will also be a very upscale music venue versus a lot of places you see around town."
When live music does return to Nissi's, Gitlin says, he'll start off with some national tribute acts and maybe some popular jam and funk bands, as the previous spot generally appealed to an older demographic, around ages forty to sixty.
"I'll probably still do a lot of that," he says. "But I'm open to whatever is successful in the space. I want people to feel comfortable. That's why I had more mature crowds. You get seating as opposed to standing all night."
For more information, visit nissis.com.