Last of the Catal Barons

Two weekends ago, Catal Huyuk, the most recent in a string of punk and alternative rock clubs to occupy the warehouse at 2524 McKinney, closed its doors. Monday-night regulars Bloodfart found themselves temporarily unemployed, and rumors were flying as to the method and means of Catal's demise.

According to investor and co-owner Richard Lyders, it all comes down to money. Something on the order of $40,000 of debt racked up in little over a year. "Fact is," said Lyders, "the place was losing money hand over fist. The debts became so phenomenal, I was having to foot the rent plus bills every single month." Lyders -- who holds a personally guaranteed ten-year lease on the property -- estimates his losses at $22,000.

That very same weekend's music bookings proved the straw that broke the camel's back, when three consecutive shows each lost between $300 and $500 for the club, depending on who you talk to.

unday night, Lyders made an appeal to the management of Epstein's on West Gray (which is almost entirely made up of people who once worked at Catal, but have left or been fired) as to how to run a self-supporting music venue.

A preliminary alliance was made between Lyders and Phil Bergeron -- an Epstein's owner and original Catal partner whose name is still on much of Catal's paperwork -- to revamp Catal's management structure. But after Bergeron had a chance to take a close look at Catal's books, which according to Lyders indicated debts in the $4,000-$5,000 range coming due in the next week, he balked.

Bergeron removed the club's beer and wine license -- which reportedly remains in his name -- from the premises, and Catal was effectively shut down. Sound and office equipment was removed from the building on Monday, and club manager Wes Hicks was evicted by Lyders and Bergeron. Lyders says he offered Hicks the opportunity to continue to run the club if he could pay the rent and bills -- an offer he says Hicks declined.

Hicks was unavailable for comment at press time.

The Shimmy Shack, on Washington Avenue (formerly the Bon Ton Room), will pick up a portion of Catal's previously scheduled shows, and Lyders says the McKinney club -- which as of press time is just sitting there, not yet officially bankrupt or dissolved -- will re-open as a live music venue in approximately one and a half months, after a new beer and wine license has been procured. The club, which opened in its Catal Huyuk incarnation on November 3, 1992, will have a new name, new booking agent, new affiliation of investors and new management.

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Brad Tyer