I was there for the very first show — Dinosaur Jr. rocked the house, guitarist J. Mascis surrounded by a wall of amps from which poured shimmering soundwaves that made him appear as if he was on a “Star Trek” transporter deck. That was Nov. 29, 2007. Almost five years later, The Valarium is closing its doors.
Owner Gary Mitchell announced in a press release on The Valariium website Friday evening that the venue — formerly home to The Orpheus and The Electric Ballroom — will be closing at the end of the month, citing a decision not to renew the venue’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission license because of problems meeting food service requirements. A Dec. 11 show by rock band Halestorm has been moved to The Tennessee Theatre.
Knoxville’s Metro Pulse was the first to report on The Valarium’s closure, citing an interview from earlier this year when Mitchell pointed to economic woes as the biggest hurdle he and his team faced.
Over the years, The Valarium — which holds roughly 1,000 people — has served as an ideal larger-sized venue for acts ranging from Mumford and Sons to Blount County’s own Whitechapel. Bigger than downtown Knoxville’s Bijou Theatre and a more appropriate concert location for rowdier and more energetic shows where moshing, dancing or standing was prohibited or discouraged by the seats at the Bijou and The Tennessee Theatre.
The complete press release on The Valarium’s closure is below:
Dear Friends and Patrons,
The Valarium and CiderHouse will cease operation on November 25th. The last event will be Taboo on November 24th.
Due to new rule changes from the TN Alcoholic Beverage Commission concerning the minimum percentage of food an establishment must sell in relation to its gross sales, our venues will be closing. We also cannot comply with the minimum number of days they require us to be open per week. Since we cannot meet their requirements, we will relinquish and not renew our ABC license when it expires November 24th, 2012.
We have never received any citations for over serving or serving an underage. However, we have been told we will be fined, prosecuted, or subject to revocation procedure for not serving enough food. They do not recognize the fact that we are a big, fast-paced venue where people come to see shows, dance, drink and socialize on a large scale, not to eat dinner. This is as unreasonable as them passing a law stating that all restaurants must install a stage and dance floor.
Also, we cannot comply with the minimum number of days they require us to be open. Good business practices dictate that you don’t open when it’s not viable. Opening for the sake of just being open forces you to offer drink specials, steep discounts, ridiculous contests, and promotions that may encourage over serving. If the primary mission statement of the TN ABC is to promote temperance, what could be more temperate than not opening on off nights? We are not aware of any other state that has these rules.
As it happens, the timing of our license renewal date puts us in the forefront of any enforcement action. Our attorneys predict that a large portion of the nightclub venue licensees in TN will not be able to comply with these regulations. However, on their advice, our only recourse is to relinquish our license when it expires on November 24th, 2012.
We would like to thank all of our friends and patrons for supporting us and allowing us to bring such amazing national, regional, and local musical talent to our stages. We would also like to thank our employees who made it all possible.
Good luck to everyone as you move forward out in the world.
Valarium and CiderHouse Management