Local Current Blog

Fine Line Music Cafe sold; what does it mean for the club’s future?

Photo courtesy Fine Line Music Cafe

News broke this morning that the Fine Line Music Café, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary hosting live music and events in Minneapolis’s Warehouse District, has been sold to the newly branded Minneapolis Event Centers arm of entertainment company Entourage Events Group.

Fans of the Fine Line are already speculating what this will mean for the future of the 750-capacity club, which has a long tradition of showcasing live rock and hip-hop acts in addition to hosting weddings and other events. Just what will happen when the new owners step in on August 6?

Speaking over the phone from the Entourage offices this morning, Minneapolis Event Centers executive Wendy Schallock says the company plans to honor “the heritage of the venue” as it moves forward into a new era. “The Fine Line has a long history,” Shallock says, “and we’re going to embrace that. Any of the changes that will be made will be—for example, putting in fresh carpets, things like that.”

Schallock is working closely with brothers Jado and Steve Hark, who also own Aqua Nightclub in downtown Minneapolis, and together they have formed the new Minneapolis Event Centers company, whose website just launched this morning. Schallock says that in addition to the Fine Line purchase, MEC has plans to “revitalize that block of First Avenue. We are taking over the Insert Coins venue as well; it will be rebranded and part of our umbrella.”

Though the future of Fine Line’s own booking abilities remains to be seen, First Avenue manager Nate Kranz says his team will still be putting on shows at the venue. “For now we are being told it will be business as usual so we have no plans to stop booking shows there for now,” Kranz said in an email today. “The new owner seems excited to work with us.”

As for why the Fine Line’s previous owner, Dario Anselmo, decided to sell the club, he said a few factors contributed to the decision. He just turned 50, he just celebrated the club’s 25th anniversary, and the venue lost its powerhouse booker Kim King when she left to work at the Cabooze last summer. “It’s a tough business, and getting tougher,” Anselmo told the Star Tribune this morning. “But regardless of that, this is really mostly about changing things up for me personally.” He also added that the new owners have more experience in the private events market, something he says is essential in today’s tumultuous live music industry.

When speaking about her company’s plans for the future, Wendy Schallock also noted that they plan to step up their non-music event game. “The focus right now is to establish more corporate and social events,” she said, “and to continue to embrace the music industry. We’d like to bring in more national acts, but also continue booking great local acts as well.”

“Rest assured: the historic Fine Line Music Cafe is going to go into 2014 with a bang,” she added. “It definitely needs a fresh perspective, from an ownership standpoint, and that’s our intention. Steve Hark is deeply rooted into the city, and our plan is to bring that whole block back to life.”