Cambridge club T.T. the Bear’s Place officially closing in July
Confirming news reported by the Globe last week about the fate of the Cambridge rock club she owns, Bonney Bouley has announced that T.T. the Bear’s Place will close on July 25. She posted a statement on the venue’s Facebook page on Monday evening.
“Life is a journey and not a destination. And what a journey I have had,” Bouley wrote of T.T.’s, which opened at 10 Brookline St. in 1983 and became a local institution, particularly for rising bands.
In an interview with the Globe on Tuesday, Bouley said negotiations had fallen through with Joseph and Nabil Sater, who own the building that houses both T.T.’s and the Middle East restaurant and entertainment complex that they run next door. She said that starting in August she would face a rent increase of $3,000, which would put T.T.’s monthly rent close to $12,000, a nearly 35 percent hike.
“As a small business, all you have to do is the numbers,” Bouley said from her Dorchester home. “How many people do you have to fit into T.T.’s a night to not only pay the rent, but pay the taxes, your liquor bills, your employees? It adds up real quick.”
Bouley said she had already been considering the future before the Saters became her landlords, when they purchased the building in November.
“I certainly was thinking about how I was going to end T.T.’s,” she said. “I’m 73 years old, and it’s time to think about doing other things, but it was still a very difficult decision for me to make.”
Bouley refused to sign the lease the Saters presented, which she said would be for five years, with a tenant’s option to extend for another five, pending the landlords’ approval. She said that at one point she had someone who was interested in taking over the club but ultimately balked at the lease’s terms.
Kevin Patey, general manager of T.T.’s, explained that the duration of the lease was an issue. If someone came in and invested in a new business at the location, “they’re going to want more than 10 years,” Patey said. “No one is going to sign that lease.”
Speaking to the Globe on Tuesday, Joseph Sater confirmed the rent increase, saying that it was necessary in order to offset the extra $14,000 he needs every month to pay the building’s mortgage. He also explained why the duration of the lease was non-negotiable.
“I can’t do more than that, because I don’t know what’s going to be happening in 10 years,” Sater said. “And if a business can’t make it in five years, they shouldn’t be there.”
Bouley said she feels no animosity toward the Saters, but she wished the situation had turned out differently. “I hoped somehow that this would work out for both of us,” she said.
Patey said that T.T.’s is planning a final week of farewell shows and hopes to attract a wide swath of bands, both local and national, who have passed through the doors of the cozy 300-capacity club. “Hey, if the Pixies wanna come back and play here, they’re more than welcome,” he said. “Drop us a line.”
In the meantime, fans were already spreading the love and memories of the club on social media. “T.T.’s always felt like home, as a band and as an audience member. Thank you for that,” one commenter posted.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to have people respect and care about T.T.’s and have good things to say about it,” Bouley said. “That was always part of why I wanted to run T.T.’s. I wanted the respect and for the bands to have a good place to play and be paid what they deserved to be paid. That was important to me.”