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305 South to close by end of October

Forwarded news from a reader: the 305 South Anti-Mall on Dillard St. is set to close by the end of the month, with an auction scheduled for Oct. 27 to close out most of the remaining inventory at the business.

As owners James and Michelle Lee noted in their email announcing the closure, "We are having such a hard time making it with out the music venue that we are just getting too tired to continue on this path. We have been in business 9 years in Durham now starting with the little house so we are sad. Come hang out with us at the auction and some friends have donated special things and art for our cause."

The music/performance space at 305 South has been closed since mid-May after the City of Durham determined the establishment needed a minimum number of bathroom stalls. The facility has operated as a 'furniture store and art gallery' since the venue shut down for live shows earlier this year.

The Lees report that the fate of the Electric Blender store is less certain; it will be open at least through Sunday Oct. 28, and they'll continue selling items online after the store closes.

The Lees have had a long run in Durham in a number of spaces, including the Ooh La Latte cafe (now Broad Street Cafe). It's always tough seeing a small business close up shop, and it's doubly unfortunate to see an outlet for live music -- particularly acts that are not commercially viable for larger venues -- shut down. For all the arts focus in Durham, outside of Ringside and BCHQ, there's a decided lack of live performance venues around, and the number just shrunk by one.


bill lee

while it is not a typical venue, and certainly not a bar, the duke coffeehouse is back up and running at full capacity and has had tons of amazing shows this semester, with plenty more on the way. but yes, 305 south closing sucks.

I Know Things

James was too stoned for success.

The Coffeehouse is over-booked, and hurting for help.

Ross Grady

Yeah, while there aren't really any spaces in Durham that offer an exact equivalent to 305 South (whatever it was the Lees provided there, it's definitely not matched elsewhere ;-)), there are certainly more venues in town than BCHQ and Ringside. In addition to the Duke Coffeehouse (which isn't overbooked, it's just understaffed . . . if anybody wants to make $75 a night running sound for them, get in touch here: http://www.duke.edu/web/coffeehouse/ ), you've got Broad Street Cafe doing live music a couple of nights a week, and the weekly hardcore/metal/punk/whatever shows at the Marvell Event Center.

Plus this year's Troika Festival is coming up, and has a series of shows booked at the James Joyce; assuming those go well, that could become a more regular occurrence: http://www.troikamusicfestival.org/

I can certainly remember times in Durham where there were *no* venues, not even the Coffeehouse (or, rather, the Coffeehouse was open, but so disorganized that if they were booking shows, nobody but them knew about it). I'd say we're doing a lot better now.

Could Durham use a real honest-to-goodness live-music bar? I dunno. It seems to be hard to run one of those successfully, even in Chapel Hill. I've argued before that the future of good live local music is probably in the nontraditional venues, the sorts of places that have multiple revenue streams (food, cafe traffic, non-music bar nights, etc). The thing that bums me out the most about 305 South closing is that we're losing exactly that sort of diversified venue.


this is the story for lots of urban pioneers. they work like dogs to create something out of next to nothing, and get shafted by the landlords or the government as soon as there's any attention being paid. I fear for the BCHQ and Bike Co_op for similar reasons. Just look at what's been happening to the pioneers in downtown Asheville - Vincent's Ear, the Community space & Free School, gone.

I heard (gotta love the street rumours) the Lees lost Ooh La Latte more because of mismanagement by their silent investment partner - but it's very clear to me that everyone with a successful business in that area of Broad St (Watts Grocery, Broad St Cafe, Joe Van Gogh) owes Ooh La for being the icebreaker. If they could have kept the music venue open, the same could have happened with the Dillard/E Main/Pettigrew area. Now I wonder - where will the office workers from Venable (or the new artsy condo owners at Gold Belt or whatever its called) go after work? To American Tobacco? If I were prone to conspiracy theory, there's a lot more that could be said. But I won't go there, except to say, there are other places still operating in other parts of Durham under equally sketchy conditions.

This sucks.

Michael Bacon

In addition to BSC and Marvell, there's also Charlie's (not really my scene), plus the ridiculous abundance of summer weekend night music series, like Warehouse Blues, the Brightleaf series, and the American Tobacco concerts.

I'm sad that 305 South is shutting down, but I never felt like it worked very well as a venue. The Electric Blender, on the other hand, is the greatest vintage store ever, and I hope it stays around.

(And I have to dispute calling Vincent's Ear a true pioneer in downtown Asheville. It was in the second or third wave. Bean Streets, Blue Moon, Fat Bruce's, Uptown Cafe, Cafe on the Square, Pastabilities, and to a greater extent Stone Soup, Malaprops, and Windmill were the real pioneers. Damn, now you got me all choked up...)

Faye Rodenhizer

Ok of all the places you mentioned that have music venues, you missed one that has great talented musicians. The Pizza Palace of Durham has a dance floor, and variety of musicians that come in for your enjoyment. We have a varied crowd and would love for you to check out www.myspace.com/pizzapalaceofdurham and see that there are alternatives to the run of the mill bars. We host bands that have a following and if your bands have a following contact me!, Or better yet, stop by and see the changes "The Palace" has made since moving to 3218 Guess Road from Hillsborough Road, 3 years ago!


"For all the arts focus in Durham, outside of Ringside and BCHQ..." and the aforementioned Broad Street Cafe, of course! ;-)

This place was briefly a live music venue. Maybe someone could buy it and do it again?


stephen c.

and speaking of the broad street renaissance, does anyone know what's going on with the space formerly known as "the basement"? though it was run into the ground this last time i understand it has a rather long past as a musical venue and the area seems primed for someone to have another go at it, thus completing the bar/rock club component missing from durham right now.


At least The Carolina Theatre is hosting up the big acts (like They Might be Giants, etc.) Blue Corn and The Know host jazz all the time.


I think it would be the end of an era for The Blender to close along w/ 305 but, they havn't done any shows in awhile and I know that put a hurting on their pocketbook, but I hope that The Electric Blender can survive! I see it as a fixture of Durham, I've been going there since 7th grade and used to work for Michelle! It's such an amazing space and they're such amazing people and whomever thinks "James was too stoned for success." as it was written in the comment above, obviously doesn't know them on a personal level and if you think you do, then I beg to differ!
And I urge EVERYONE to get up and go out to the Auction on October 27th @ 10AM and help support The Electric Blender and the last days of 305 South!
Hopefully everything will work out for them because they deserve it more than anyone!

Viva The Electric Blender!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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