Lovejoy’s May Be Closing in March

A post at the Austin LiveJournal community announced that the owner of Lovejoy’s is contemplating closing his business in March after SXSW. Though it’s difficult to tell whether the change is directly related to the smoking ban, according to this Statesman article, owner Joseph Tait said he’s seen a 15 to 20 percent drop-off in sales since the ban began. In an email posted to the community, he writes:

When I opened Lovejoys in January of 1994 there was no place like it in Austin. Most of the downtown places were either dance clubs, restaurants or music venues. I wanted a place where the whole goal was just to hang out with your friends, make some new friends and share stimulating conversation over a few beers. Community and camaraderie reigned supreme, everything else was periphery.

People responded, and I was thrilled.

Well, the community is different now. There are lots of places that do the same sort of thing we do. You might say we started something and others followed (and improved upon it, perhaps).

I’m not one to complain about competetion… without competetors, one becomes complacent. Unfortunately, thanks to the powers that be, I’m not playing on the same field as many of my competetors.

When I opened Lovejoys there was an APD sub-station across the street. Next to that was a vending company warehouse, and across the street from the warehouse was a parking lot. Over the last 12 years, the APD substation became a crack-dealing convenience store (oh, the irony!), the vending company warehouse is now a soup kitchen, and the parking lot is now a $7-million dollar homeless shelter. How many businesses are going to survive that?

Well, we did.

Then there came the smoking ban…. [rant] Fuck a bunch of no-good, self-righteous yuppie pricks who never even set foot in this place to begin with. [/rant] … many of my competetors have facilities better suited to deal with Austin’s smoking ban. I have no patio, and no place to put one. (NO, not even the roof. The building is historic; you can’t mess with it. And even if you could, we’re looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in engineering upgrades.) People are trying to remain loyal, and I appreciate that, but it’s just too easy to go to a place where you can have a beer and a smoky treat at the same time.

WHY NOT CHANGE CONCEPTS AND MAKE THE PLACE MORE ATTRACTIVE TO THE NON-SMOKING COMMUNITY?

I never set out to attract smokers in the first place. Read the first paragraph again. I can’t help it if the people who are in to what we do also happen to smoke. And I don’t want to change my business to accomidate new people, dammit. I like my concept just the way it is. And if I can’t have it the way I want it, then fuck it, I’m out.

WOULD YOU SELL IT?

Yes, I would. I do believe that the groundwork I put in place could be altered and imporved upon by someone with a slightly different vision. I do not claim to be the only person who can run a bar. I would get great satisfaction in seeing someone take Lovejoys to the next level (just like Frank did with Emo’s). If anyone is seriously interested in buying the place, then contact Don Busby at 383-0016.

Thanks to everyone who has ever brought something to the conversation at Lovejoys. You have all made my life richer.

Celebrate Your Vices!

Chip

Update: A study commissioned by the American Cancer Society has found that the ban has had “no significant change” to the number of patrons in bars.

10 Comments so far

  1. M1EK (unregistered) on November 18th, 2005 @ 3:55 pm

    “Fuck a bunch of no-good, self-righteous yuppie pricks who never even set foot in this place to begin with.”

    Well, fuck him too. Asshats like him lied before the election about the number of non-smoking bars and other live music venues (and why they went non-smoking; claiming that the market was ‘solving the problem’ when 100% of those establishments did it because they were forced to by law), and now every single bar that closes will blame the smoking ban.

    That’s life; but insulting your prospective replacement customers like this betrays a particularly loathsome stupidity that frankly DESERVES to be put out of business.


  2. Butter Woman (unregistered) on November 18th, 2005 @ 4:23 pm

    Woah–that’s pretty harsh! He DESERVES to go out of business because he disagrees with the smoking ban? And do you honestly think the non-smoking community is going to become the replacement customers at places like Lovejoy’s?


  3. ttrentham (unregistered) on November 18th, 2005 @ 4:27 pm

    You know a debate on the Internet is going well when someone breaks out the “asshat”. Is that some variation of Godwin’s Law?

    Anyway, I can understand where Chip is coming from. I really like Lovejoy’s. I have a lot of fond memories of that place. However, like many downtown bars, I couldn’t stand the smoke. I’m one of the self-righteous yuppie pricks who actually does set foot in the bar AND voted for the ban. He himself points out many of the factors that are hurting that bar. Is the smoking ban the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back? Probably, but I think the other factors he mentions are a bigger factor. I also think it’s more difficult to park for free downtown than it used to be in the mid-90’s and people just don’t want to hassle with going down to the Sixth Street area. Or maybe it’s just that the crowd that had it’s heyday there is getting older and is less inclined to go out (yes, I’m including myself in that bunch)?

    There are tons of alternatives to his place now where there weren’t before. The bermuda triangle of Casino El Camino, Lovejoy’s and Emo’s has more competition now that they did in the mid-90’s. Emo’s has morphed itself into what Liberty Lunch was and Casino is about to celebrate it’s 11th anniversary next week and still seems to be doing fine, but then they’ve got a patio.

    Interesting that he’s holding out for the SXSW money-maker. If they are closing down, it’ll make me more likely to head there than one of the other newer options like Sidebar.


  4. wae (unregistered) on November 18th, 2005 @ 5:30 pm

    M1EK breaks out the “asshat” … awesome. To be fair to Chip, tho, he did block the offending statement off contextually. Hmmmm …

    [NOSTALGIA]If they do close, I’ll miss Lovejoy’s. So long as a couch doesn’t unloose a jagged spring in your ass, it has one of the better set-ups downtown for lounging and conversation over good beer.[/NOSTALGIA]

    [REALITY]But as Tim mentions, there really are lots of substitutes, partial though they may be, for Lovejoy’s. In addition to Casino, I’ll toss in GMan for beer snobbery and 710 for occasionally extreme art.[/REALITY]

    [COMMENTARY]M1EK … it sounds as though Chip doesn’t much care about attracting potential replacement customers, and I respect that (although some anger management classes wouldn’t hurt). The saddest thing would be for him to go for a half-assified Iron Cactus makeover and satisfy no one.[/COMMENTARY]

    [UNABASHED PLUG]By the way, Lovejoy’s usually features interesting artwork over SxSW. Check it out, unless you really don’t like explicit dark imagery, like Tim Burton’s worst porno nightmare.[/UNABASHED PLUG]


  5. M1EK (unregistered) on November 18th, 2005 @ 10:23 pm

    “Woah–that’s pretty harsh! He DESERVES to go out of business because he disagrees with the smoking ban?”

    No, he deserves to go out of business because his contempt for his possible replacement customers is so freakin’ obvious.

    “Fuck a bunch of no-good, self-righteous yuppie pricks who never even set foot in this place to begin with.”

    Here’s a clue, folks: most of the bar owners who opposed this ban were lying their asses off before the election (about the quantity of non-smoking music venues and what made them go non-smoking); so I have no sympathy for them now. If they had attempted compromise rather than this bullshit, they might be better positioned today. I’m not thrilled at ZERO smoking bars any more than I was thrilled at effectively zero non-smoking bars; but the barowners themselves chose to make it an all-or-nothing affair, and they lost.


  6. spyglass (unregistered) on November 19th, 2005 @ 7:24 am

    You are mistaken that bar owners were not willing to work out a compromise. Bar owners did work out a compromise with the city just prior to an outside party coming in and deciding Austin was going non-smoking. The city never gave the bar owners a chance to readdress the issue, instead bowing to zealotry.

    As far as blaming it on the smoking ban, is it coincidence that Beerland reports sales down 43% and Antone’s is reporting sales down 29% since the smoking ban?


  7. M1EK (unregistered) on November 19th, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

    “You are mistaken that bar owners were not willing to work out a compromise. Bar owners did work out a compromise with the city just prior to an outside party coming in and deciding Austin was going non-smoking”

    Bull. That’s no compromise. Doing a non-smoking show once a week in a venue that still reeks of smoke, and doing it on the night where people are least likely to want to go out, and making sure nobody good ever plays for it – that’s the kind of behavior you expect out of a sullen teenager who’s being forced to do something they don’t want to do.

    If Austin’s overall bar business ends up dropping substantially, it will be the first city where this happened after a smoking ban. I expect that bars which sullenly and barely comply while spewing contempt for their new customers aren’t going to do as well as those who suck it up and deal with it.


  8. spyglass (unregistered) on November 19th, 2005 @ 3:31 pm

    Sure, bar owners love smokers so much they are willing to cut their profits just to accomodate them. The way to get rich is to open a non-smoking bar in Houston or San Antonio. You bet.

    You anti-smokers wanted to sterilize Austin bars. Well, you got what you wanted. Lovejoy’s is so sterile, there will soon be no life in there at all.

    That location will be a great place for a Starbucks.


  9. tika_67 (unregistered) on November 28th, 2005 @ 11:23 pm

    joseph tait: well good fucking riddance then. oh yeah, and your place sucks. enjoy smoking yourself to death.


  10. tika_67 (unregistered) on November 28th, 2005 @ 11:34 pm

    spyglass~ clearly you can’t see through your own toxic smoky haze if you seriously think that “cigarette smoke”= “life”.

    is it really the stale, putrid fumes of the marlboro man (and the philip-morris corporation that all you so-called “rebels” are so enslaved to) that puts character into a place?? that’s pretty sad, if you take away the smoke and there’s nothing left. what does that say about the place? obviously it was pretty sterile, lifeless, hollow and superficial to begin with.

    if austin barowners can’t respect what the MAJORITY voted for in our legal, DEMOCRATIC election, and they’re going to whine and complain & can’t change with the times~ then maybe they should just all leave. and perhaps now, some business owners who give shit about their patrons will have room to come in and open even better places, that aren’t carcinogenic “gas chambers”. if the barowners are solely existing on the money of nicotine junkies, then, again- that’s pretty sad- and they’re just as bad off as the junkies are.



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