Friday, April 11, 2008

Echo Lounge space to reopen as music venue

Posted By on Fri, Apr 11, 2008 at 6:10 PM

web-echo.jpg

Empty and silent for more than three years, the former Echo Lounge has lately served as a sad reminder of the apparent downturn of an Atlanta live-music scene suffering the loss of several notable venues.

But that may soon change when it reopens as East Atlanta Icehouse, a nightclub and restaurant that promises a wide range of musical acts.

“We’re hoping desperately to be open by the end of May,” says Chip English, who, along with partner Mike Murphy, is working to secure the remaining permits needed to reopen the venue.

English, who will manage the facility, says the musical acts will be “anything from rock-and-roll to bluegrass to zydeco. We’d like to be known for variety.”

Unlike the Echo Lounge, which was forced to close when city officials realized it was operating on a restaurant license but didn’t even have a kitchen, the Icehouse will offer a full menu and even serve lunch on a patio.

According to English, the building had sat vacant so long because a daycare had opened nearby shortly after the Echo Lounge closed, which made it impossible to renew the liquor license. Once the daycare finally closed, the partners jumped on the property.

However, the Icehouse still needs a zoning exemption because, as a music venue, it’s too close to neighboring homes. But Ed Gilgor, chairman of the local neighborhood planning unit, says that’s a small hurdle.

“The community wants this facility,” he says. “But, given its proximity to homes, we have to be certain it happens in a way that works for everybody.”

Noise shouldn’t be a problem. Originally built as a storage house for ice in the 1920s, English notes, the building has eight-inch-thick walls that are virtually soundproof.

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

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