Circle Bar Closing?

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I speak for many when I say that The Circle Bar is one our collective favorite places. The rumor mill has been running rampant that the Circle Bar is closing for good. I just spoke to Dave Clements, one of the managers of the bar who also owns Snake and Jakes. He just got the required licenses renewed for the bar so they can continue to operate.

I also spoke to Lefty Parker, who is an independent music producer in New Orleans, and has been in charge of booking gigs at Circle Bar. He said he and the staff have just decided to go their various ways. He reflected saying, ” Kelly is the reason this is a bar.” Since Kellly’s death and the flood, he said employees have reevaluated their lives, like all residents.

Lefty said he needs to focus not so much on selling liquor but being a producer. The staff of the Circle Bar all came on board with loyalties to Kelly Keller, who died in her sleep on Sept. 25th, 2004. A great loss to the New Orleans live music scene. He said that with so much demand on everyone and changes in the music scene, some of the smaller venues are struggling. Some of this can be attributed to the sheer demand on our time and energy. See Chris Martel’s Poston Kelly’s contribution to the New Orleans live music scene.

The Circle Bar is one place I can go to spend real ‘loose time’ here in one of the oldest buildings on Lee Circle, this is truly an authentic New Orleans bar. It has been home to some of New Orleans’ best, and most cramped live music experiences. One of my favorites here being Alex McMurray. Lefty and Dave said tomorrow they will host a formal farewell to the die hard staff who has been here defending since Katrina but who have all decided to move on for various reasons. My favorite is Luke Allen, of Happy Talk. Luke has always been a great gentleman to me and greeted me with the much needed local kiss no matter how many days between our visits and never fails to remember I drink Guiness.

This building that houses the Circle Bar on Lee Circle is one of the last still existing from the 1880’s but with some components probably the 1860’s according to Richard Campenella’s “New Orleans: Then and Now”. The mural inside on the bar’s curved end is very historically significant and was uncovered during the renovation of the building in the 1990s when it was the Fleur de Lee restaurant.

It would be a loss to not be able to touch base with this history on the most casual level, one thing that makes our city so unique. The shake up at The Circle Bar reminds us that nothing in our routine of rich and authentic historical backdrops can be taken for granted. Dave Clemments said they will take a complete break/vacation for a week or so and get some new staff lined up and take it from there.

The owner of the building is Jimmy Conn. Having been upstairs, I can attest that the building is probably not up to code, but the owner has probably not applied for all available assistance for historic grants and tax credits, a common problem. I know there are avenues we can pursue to help him move toward stabilizing this builiding and making it fully viable for him to continue operating at it’s full potential and saving a very unique and now, rare turn of the century structure on Lee Circle. Bottom line, it’s a New Orleans gem.

I must thank Dave and Lefty for taking the time to talk to me tonight in the middle of their busy day but I really wanted to get the story straight. We should all thank them both for their continuing dedication to our city and our music culture.

Please go by tomorrow evening and give thanks to the staff who has been so dedicated to making the Circle Bar a great place to hang for so many years.

Circle Bar Website
Flickr Photos of Lee Circle

3 Comments so far

  1. Randzille (unregistered) on June 1st, 2007 @ 11:01 am

    The day this bar is sold by the owner, a developer will want to demolish it and turn it into condos or if the developer is Justin Scmidt: a parking lot.


  2. Eric (unregistered) on June 3rd, 2007 @ 6:48 pm

    Great post, enjoy reading your blogs and glad I can stop in from time to time. Eric


  3. maple story power leveling (unregistered) on June 20th, 2007 @ 1:42 am

    i don’t agree with what u said.

    i think it’s fine if the circle doesn’t infulute our life.we should pay more stention to make our life more colorful



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