Grand Central, a Dauphin Street staple, suddenly closed its doors Thursday, after 20 years in business.
Citing slow business, co-owner David Naman told Lagniappe that he and the other four co-owners decided just two days ago to close the downtown bar.
“As of right now, we are closed,” he said. “We are trying to regroup.”
Grand Central posted a simple message announcing the closure at 8:04 p.m. Thursday via Facebook, stating “After twenty years the doors are closed.” The short sentence was followed by a frowning face emoticon.
As of Friday afternoon, the message had been shared 30 times and had 60 comments posted, mostly by patrons and musicians who were shocked and saddened by the news.
“We’re really going to miss it,” one person wrote. “Made some great friends playing there, and the best staff of any bar we’ve ever been too.”
Matthew Charnetski, who worked as a bartender at Grand Central, did not hear about the closing until 5:30 p.m. yesterday evening.
“I don’t know a lot more than anyone else,” he said. “I was told they weren’t making enough money to stay open and that was pretty much the end of the conversation … it was pretty much out of the blue. I heard them complain some but didn’t think it would close especially before Mardi Gras.”
According to Carol Hunter, communications director at the Downtown Mobile Alliance, downtowns, in general, are very dynamic places, and it is not uncommon to see older businesses close and new businesses move in.
“It’s been happening for 300 years,” she said.
Hunter said three of Grand Central’s owners Bill Monahan, Naman and Randy Setterstrom, who are all brothers-in-law, own other businesses downtown and will continue to be a presence.
“You always hate to lose a good business and good business people,” she said. “They may be rebranding that for a completely new concept and that would be great.”
According to Naman, the building’s liquor license and other licenses are all still in full effect.
The venue will still host private parties as owners contemplate which direction to take the venue, he said. Naman also added leasing the building as another possibility.
“We really don’t know yet,” he said. “We may want to just have private parties or come back later on and do something a little bit better. As of right now, it’s still up in the air … The building will come back alive again.”