Parking issues have always plagued Midtown, especially on weekends, which is why it was an especially pleasant surprise to pull onto Travis Street and see a couple getting into their car just after 9 p.m. this past Friday.
Once we had secured the spot, a few friends and I walked around the corner to the Continental Club, where we expected to find that the nearby construction had negatively influenced attendance.
Not in the slightest.
By 10 p.m., the venue looked to be near capacity. There was a full dance floor; patrons were crowded tightly around the bar, edging each other out for space; and a packed patio was overflowing into the Big Top next door and even the shops upstairs.
"Business has been booming," says Continental Club co-owner and managing partner Pete Gordon in a recent email. "We have not seen a slowdown at all.
"There is still plenty of street parking, which is free after 6 p.m., and we have two parking lots in operation within blocks of our front doors: one at Holman and Main and one at Winbern and Main providing more spaces than we've ever had," Gordon adds.
The ongoing construction project has multiple phases, Gordon says. The first of which, scheduled for completion in April, will include a parking garage with at least 200 spaces.
"We are all very excited about the new project as it will bring more retail and people to our neighborhood," Gordon says. "Also, within our new project, we have been able to save all the existing beautiful old buildings as well."
Gordon isn't the only business owner on the block who is excited about the developments and hasn't been negatively affected by them.
"Sig's Lagoon hasn't seen a drop off," says the record shop's owner, Tomas Escalante. "In fact, we've seen growth in business since the lot disappeared the first week of October."
"Occasionally, a customer asks where to park," he adds. "There is usually a space in the street; otherwise, there is a lot in the area [on Holman between Main and Fannin] that is co-managed by Mid-Main."
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Escalante is also looking forward to the new businesses that will be moving in the area in the near future, which should bring more patrons to all the other shops and venues along Main Street too.
Both Gordon and Escalante say that the load-in process for bands has not changed, and we didn't hear anyone inside any of the shops, bars or venue complaining. Local fans of the "golden oldies" are evidently more resilient than we anticipated.
"As for the Continental Club and Big Top Lounge, I haven't noticed it affecting attendance or ticket sales," Escalante continues. "A Fistful of Soul had a line down the block in October, which was two weeks into construction, probably one of the biggest attendance nights since they moved their residency."
This past Saturday night was similarly jam-packed and, judging by the club's Facebook page, it has no plans of scheduling fewer events. Instead, it gently reminds its social media followers that carpooling might be prudent.
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