The owners of South Austin venue One-2-One Bar said Thursday that they are looking to sell their business, just as relief funding from the city might be coming in — though the exact amount is unclear.
Some Austin music venues that applied for city grants to help them survive lost income from months of closures during the coronavirus pandemic were notified this week about what funds, if any, they may receive.
One-2-One Bar posted on social media Thursday morning that they’d received just $500 of a maximum $40,000 from the Austin Small Business Relief grant. "We are sad to say that we are no longer going to continue, and One-2-One Bar is now for sale," owners Gregg and Destinee Ware wrote on the club’s Facebook page, in a post that was shared more than 400 times in two hours.
Gregg Ware called the American-Statesman on Thursday afternoon to relay that a representative from Austin’s Better Business Bureau, which is administering the Small Business Relief program, later notified him that the email One-2-One received about the $500 grant may have been in error and that the venue might in fact be getting the $40,000 maximum.
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Regardless, Ware said he and his wife are still planning to sell One-2-One, noting that a grant "may buy us a little more time" but would not address ongoing costs. While $40,000 would "pay a very good chunk of what we owe the landlord, the question is how long they’ll let us continue to build up more debt," he said. With city restrictions on keeping bars closed recently extended through mid-December, more debt will accumulate quickly this fall. Ware added that while the landlord has been working with the venue during the pandemic, "they’ve got fixed costs. … They don’t own the building outright, so they have their own bank mortgage to pay."
Ware said One-2-One also applied for the city’s Creative Space Disaster Relief Program, which had a maximum $50,000 grant. He was notified Wednesday that One-2-One did not receive that grant via an email that stated in part, "the demand for funding greatly exceeded the total amount in this program."
The city confirmed Thursday that 12 music venues received Creative Space program grants. (The program’s 32 grants also covered other businesses and nonprofits such as theaters and museums.) Austin City Council allocated $1 million for the Creative Space program; $10 million was allotted for the Small Business Relief program.
Ware said One-2-One is asking $175,000 for the business. "We lowered the price; if we were open, it would be worth definitely more than that," he said. "It was a profitable business — not extremely profitable, because local live music isn’t extremely profitable for anybody."
One-2-One is known for a high-quality sound system and a willingness to book a wide variety of genres. While not possessing the historic pedigree of rooms such as its across-the-street neighbor Saxon Pub or downtown legacy venues such as Antone’s and Stubb’s, it became an important spot for residency gigs by acts including Jaimee Harris, Cari Hutson and the Nightowls, while occasionally hosting renowned musicians such as Austin guitar great Eric Johnson.
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Last week, Rebecca Reynolds of advocacy group the Austin Music Venue Alliance told the Statesman that City Council "indicated to venues early on that there would be direct venue support." Reynolds said that some venues took on debt "with the understanding that there would be dedicated venue relief. And then it didn’t materialize."
On Thursday, Reynolds said that "the way the city surgically addressed musicians and venue workers, while purposely denying venues, thereby turning the community against itself, is (expletive) shameful."
Meanwhile, the Austin Chronicle reported Thursday that East Austin venue Stay Gold has been threatened with a lawsuit by its landlord, seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars after negotiations
American-Statesman writer Deborah Sengupta Stith contributed to this story.