Q&A: The Crocodile's Marcus Charles on Mad Rad, Sonics, and His First Year at Second and Blanchard"/>
It's been a year since Marcus Charles and a pool of investors brought their brooms and shovels over to the beloved Crocodile Cafe, gutted it, polished it, and re-birthed it as The Crocodile. Between the time the club shuttered in 2007 and the day the doors reopened in 2009, the economy went to boom to "WTF!?," Mad Rad was born, banned from the Hill, and let back on, and folks got used to a nightlife landscape that did not include a club at Belltown's second and Blanchard.
Renee McMahon Mad Rad--seen here at Sasquatch! 2009--plays the new Croc's one-year anniversary party with Throw Me the Statue and The Globes at 8 p.m., Saturday.
Here, Charles (with club publicist/Mad Rad manager Kerri Harrop sitting in) talks about how the Croc's faring, why they didn't start from scratch, and what he thinks about his new neighbor, Hard Rock Cafe.
Congrats on year #1. How did it go?
It actually went really well. This whole year's been rough all the way around, but surprisingly enough, the Crocodile's done great. We're paying our bills, paying back our investors, the calendar's been looking really good, and the community support has been there. I think a lot of people were a little bit like, "Oh my gosh, they gutted the whole Crocodile," and then came back and were like, "But this is actually better!"
If it was your intention the whole time to gut the club and start over, why not start at a new space?
Second and Blanchard, Crocodile, that's a brand. If you want to take an extreme marketing version, it's a brand that can't go away. There so much -- I don't want to say brand equity, because that's so cliche -- there's so much just love that exists in that space.When you took ownership of the space, what did you buy? Did you buy the name Croc and take over the lease?
In a technical business world, you're buying the lease, and you're buying the assets.
What happened in the almost two years that the space was closed. Were there changes in the marketplace that made it harder to come back?
I don't think so. Seattle had such a strong community with Neumos and Chop Suey and the Crocodile. You know, we all play together in this nice little mix. It was nice that a Seattle institution people were able to rally around and save, you know, unlike Sonics, or any number of stuff that is so uniquely Seattle that has unfortunately gone away.
It looks like in late 2007 The Croc had an average of maybe a show more a week. Is that an accurate assessment?
The Crocodile used to run like that. It used to be seven nights a week, or six nights we're gonna have a show, even if it's not the right show. For us, we do the shows that we think make sense in our room.
(With Hard Rock Cafe in town), is the market big enough for another room your size?
We're just going to do what we do, and we're going to continue to have great local shows, great national shows. I don't want to be the dude that just talks mad shit about them.
But if I'm a consumer that wants to go see a Mad Rad show -- (to Harrop) I'll just use your band since you're sitting right here -- If (you) want to see a Mad Rad show ... you're gonna make a decision: Do I want to see a local show a the Crocodile where it's actually a local place, or do I want to go see that show at the Hard Rock? And I think most consumers are gonna wanna see that show at the Crocodile.
So, will Mad Rad be playing the Hard Rock?
Harrop: I don't foresee that happening any time. I don't think they can afford them. They can't pay our guarantee. They throw in Stevie Ray's guitar and we'll talk about it.
Are you guys at a sustainable point with your business right now or do things need to get better this year?
Oh, I'd say it's very sustainable. There was a fear when we opened, up, "(Are) Neumos and the Crocodile going to be able to coexist?" I think there's enough room for all three of us -- Chop Suey, Crocodile, and Neumos-- to have full schedules. You're not doing what you used to do, but we're definitely paying our bills. If we had a couple more corporate parties, that would definitely help us out. Even if a corporate party never came, we'd still be doing really great, well into the future.