Mark Marek has opened a BYOB nightclub called Soundgarden Hall at Columbus Boulevard and Spring Garden Street. The club has two levels – one for patrons over 21, who may bring alcohol, but must leave any leftovers behind at the end of the night, and one for those under-age.
Marek, also the managing partner of Rumors at 15th and Sansom Streets, says his new place at the old Club Egypt address is the first BYOB music venue in Philadelphia. He anticipates bringing in up to 900 under-age and 500 adult patrons for “multi-faceted, high-performance shows,” he said, with a focus on European DJ acts that are all the rage.
To keep the music going and the place open, he needs the support of the Northern Liberties and Old City civic associations.
For starters, Marek needs a special assembly license. This won't be awarded without the support of the local police captain, and that won't come without agreements between Marek and the two civic groups, NLNA Zoning Chair Larry Freedman told his committee at a meeting with Marek and attorney Shawn Ward Thursday night. The Department of Licenses and Inspections has already denied the application because, since there are no agreements yet, there is no police support. But Marek has appealed the decision, and the club can operate during the appeal process.
The Thursday meeting was the start of talks aimed at reaching the agreement. Based on the discussion, it is likely to limit hours of operation, require that Marek maintain a certain amount of security and a guaranteed number of inexpensive off-street parking spots, and prohibit him from seeking a liquor license at the site at least until the special assembly license would be up for renewal, two years after issuance.
This would give the community a chance to see how the business runs, and assess whether or not there are any problems. Ward said this track-record period was what First District Councilman Mark Squilla had in mind when he suggested Marek file the appeal and begin operations.
NLNA also wants Marek and his team to be responsible for managing and securing the club even if another group has rented out the facility for an event. Marek and Ward expressed a willingness to incorporate these topics in an agreement. But more meetings are needed before NLNA proposes any specific language.
Marek has also met with Old City Civic, and based on an interview with zoning committee co-chair Joe Schiavo, some of the same issues are OCC concerns.