After unexpectedly closing its doors last month, an arts and culture hub on Broad Street has re-opened right on schedule.
Lacey-Lou Tapas Lounge (1320 Broad St.), which has become a hot spot for local musicians and poets to perform, went on a brief hiatus in May due to financial problems from unexpected construction costs with plans to re-open on June 1.
Over the last few weeks, the community has pulled together to help the lounge open again, which it did on Monday night.
“While we were closed we were astonished at how many patrons and musicians came together to help fundraise,” said owner Natasha Grau-Ensminger, noting they raised roughly $4,000.
“Our hiatus also gave us the opportunity to restructure some [aspects] of the lounge, including the kitchen and menu, as well as bring in some additional knowledgeable staff.”
Though they have not yet met their $50,000 fundraising goal, five businesses have offered their space and to help collaborate on fundraising efforts.
“[We] need to be open and running in order for potential [investors] to put anything into the business,” she added.
According to Grau-Ensminger, their financial problems started early when she discovered structural problems that were not disclosed when she originally signed the lease agreement.
For example, walls needed to be rebuilt, part of the structure was rotting, and its lack of crawl space meant they had to tear up the floor to put in plumbing, turning what was supposed to be a two-month renovation into seven months.
“It ate up a lot of our capital for the first two years. So we started with nothing and were already in debt,” she said, adding that they have been running day-to-day with a staff of nine. “We footed the majority of the bill.”
In an effort to generate more money, Lacey-Lou then started an online campaign to raise the roughly $50,000 needed to pay off the debt and keep the business running.
“The loss of Lacey-Lou’s would mean that dozens of artists and musicians will not have a local space to demonstrate their talent and come together to create and inspire. It would mean that hundreds will lose their community hub,” said Grau-Ensminer.
Through the online campaign, they raisd just under $2,000.
Fundraising efforts will continue in the months to come to help pay off the debt.
Lacey-Lou, which is named after Grau-Ensminger’s dog, originally opened in late 2014, and has since grown into a bustling centre for Victoria’s arts and culture community.
Within a few months of opening, they had a wait list of artists to showcase their work, a packed monthly calendar full of poetry sessions and comedy shows, and have had more than 500 musical performances.
Mike Pendray, a musician who got his start at Lacey-Lou, said it quickly became a second home for him.
“I never went to bars or anything in the community. Instead of going home, I would come here,” said the Langford resident. “This isn’t my local place to come, but I don’t have a reason to go anywhere else.”