There are escrow papers floating around right now that confirm the end of an era in San Diego music. Dave Hodges, who founded the Belly Up Tavern nearly 30 years ago and is largely responsible for renovating the Solana Beach "Cedros Design District" is selling his 600-capacity music venue to restaurateur Steve Goldberg.
An employee at the club said that Hodges had planned to own the North County club until it celebrates its 30th anniversary in October, but it "was more the right person than the right time."
The right person, apparently, is Goldberg, who also owns the Pacific Coast Grill in Solana Beach and restaurants in Colorado and Michigan. A look at Pacific Coast Grill's website suggests Goldberg might "get it."
"The absence of a "cool' place to hang out, prompted Steve and Georgia Goldberg to create their own," the site reads, quoting Goldberg as saying "we wanted to be able to dine with our dog."
The BUT employee says Hodges was adamant that he sell to someone who would continue on the spirit of the BUT, which is highly regarded as the best club in North County (though hampered by bad sight lines).
Reportedly, Hodges even turned down higher offers on the club because he believed Goldberg was the best fit for the venue. The employee said Goldberg plans to renovate the club, fixing small problems like sight lines.
Right now, the sale is in escrow. It also includes Wild Note Café, the restaurant adjoining the space.
What changes, if any, Goldberg will make to the venue remains to be seen. Will they still book some of the best underground hip-hop (The Roots, Black Eyed Peas, J-Live, etc.)? Will they still cater to the older sophisticates with musicians like Etta James and David Wilcox? As of late, the club had begun to book a smattering of indie rock (No Knife, Blonde Redhead, etc.)-will that continue? Will cops still lurk in packs outside of the venue looking to bust people who've had one glass of house wine too many?
As of now, the employee seems to think that, save for the renovation, no real changes will be made. The Belly Up has been regularly selling out shows in past months (Common, Gangstarr, Karl Denson, etc.), so Goldberg would be wise to only tweak the formula where necessary.