Thanks to a new location and a crowdfunding campaign, the final pieces to revive beloved rock club Great Scott are coming together.
If all goes as planned, the venue is slated to reopen post-pandemic in the former Regina Pizzeria’s Allston location at 353 Cambridge St. Its full-fledged renovation will be funded with the money the club’s former booking agent, Carl Lavin, raised through a monthslong campaign on Mainvest.
The page stopped accepting investments at midnight Wednesday after garnering more than $270,000 from over 700 investors, who each pledged a minimum of $100.
“The people made this happen,” Lavin said in a phone interview. “The outpouring of support has been amazing.”
News that Great Scott intended to permanently shutter spread like wildfire this spring. One local created a petition, and social media brimmed with music fans lamenting its loss. Shortly after, Lavin rushed to acquire the venue’s intellectual property and liquor license from owner Frank Strenk and began looking for investors. His efforts to keep Great Scott at 1222 Commonwealth Ave. — its 40-year home — fell short when the landlord, Oak Hill Properties, granted a lease to another business. But the investment campaign moved forward as Lavin began looking at other potential sites.
On Sept. 18, he signed a letter of intent to lease the former Regina Pizzeria, which sits diagonally across the street from Great Scott’s sister venue, O’Brien’s Pub. The building’s landlord, Arcand Associates, has been “incredibly supportive” in the process, Lavin said. (In decades past, the Cambridge Street building has functioned as a college hangout called Sports Depot, a seafood restaurant named Captain Fishbones, and, originally, a train station.)
“We have located the perfect location to relocate the Great Scott amidst the craziness of 2020,” Lavin wrote in a note on the investment campaign page. “I’m proud to say that we’ve entered into negotiations with the landlord of the former location of Pizzeria Regina, whose roots and passion for Allston have proven undeniable over the years.”
Before Lavin signs the lease, there are still “a few hurdles to clear” that include finalizing funding and securing any additional cosigners, he said.
Now he is mapping out how the former pizza shop will function as a creative space.
“We’re working on the switchover from a very big family restaurant into a live music situation,” Lavin said. “There’s things with the layout and also acoustically that need to get underway.”
He hopes to replicate the Great Scott locals knew and loved: a rectangular layout with an intimate stage on one side and a bar on another. One thing that will definitely make a reappearance is the venue’s green-and-white-checkered floor, an “iconic” part of the former space, Lavin said.
“We have the ability to make it as close to the look and feel of Great Scott as possible, while also being able to take advantage of the fact that we have a little more space to do the things Great Scott absolutely would’ve if they had the room,” he explained.
The updated venue will have a dedicated area for band gear — something the Commonwealth Avenue location lacked.
“On the one hand, part of Great Scott’s charm is that sometimes gear was in the way and it’s hard to get to the bathrooms, and the bands have to hang out at the merch table or the bar,” Lavin said. “As much as I love that aspect of things, being able to give the bands — the locals and the ones touring — a little bit of a more traditional situation is good. That part will be a little different.”
Also on the docket is the addition of an eatery, more specifically a “well-known locally-owned pizzeria” that will “partner on the location,” according to Lavin’s note on the Mainvest page. This would ensure Great Scott can rake in revenue as a dining space before live venues return under Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan.