After Tonight's Final Bad Ass Jazz Affair, Expo Park's Amsterdam Bar Will Close For Good.
Well, it looks like the long-running Monday night staple Badass Jazz at Amsterdam Bar will end its run tonight. Actually, it'll be the last thing that ever to happen at the bar, period.
That's right: Just this afternoon, the revered Exposition Park space announced its closing via a Facebook update.
We've reached out to ownership for further comment on the closing, but have yet to hear back. We'll let you know if and when that changes. (Update: As you'll see at the bottom of this post, we've now heard back now from Amsterdam owner Mike Scheel, who confirms this news while also sharing with us some insights behind the move and his personal future. Scroll on down to read up on that.)
Regardless, this is sad news, to be sure — and a turn of events that only adds to the turnover that Expo Park's nightlife scene has experienced in recent years.
First, there was Fallout Lounge, which closed its doors in June 2012 and then became The Record Lounge, which has also since closed. More recently, The Meridian Room served its final brunch this past November.
Needless to say, the neighborhood has been going through a lot of changes. And, while we can't think of a more fitting sendoff than one last round of Bad Ass Jazz, we know too that the Amsterdam will be sorely missed.
It was, by most any account, one of the good ones.
Update at 5:41 p.m.: “It is what it is,” Amsterdam owner Mike Scheel says when reached by phone this afternoon of his decision to shut down his long-running space, which he'd converted from a coffee shop after acquiring it in his early 20s. “It's been a really long run.”
It's been so long, in fact, that Scheel claims he can't even recall for sure how long he's had the bar. Pressed to do so, he crunches the numbers out loud: “Let's see. My daughter is 16. I had the bar for a few years before that. So I guess 18 or 19 years? I honestly don't remember.”
What he remembers well is attempting to raise a kid in Expo Park, where he's lived throughout the course of this ownership stretch, just above the bar. Now, as the father of two more young boys who are reaching school age, Scheel says he's ready for a change of pace — for both his own lifestyle and for his kids' education — through a move to the suburbs.
Sure, he's a little nostalgic when looking back on his run: “People have been married here,” he says of Amsterdam. “So many people have met here and then been married and had kids.” But, for the most part, he doesn't sound particularly broken up over the decision, which he says he just came to over this past weekend. Nor does he want anyone else to be too disappointed by the news.
“The thought of everyone swinging by for a month-long pity party just doesn't sound appealing to me,” he says. “I don't want to go through that night after night after night after night after night. No one else wants to go to a pity party, either. The writing was on the wall. It was time to pull the plug.”
He admits that business was down some, that new bars popping up all over town have hurt his bottom line some — “there's bars everywhere now,” he says — but, mostly, he says that saying goodbye to the Amsterdam means, for him, the opportunity to pursue some other goals. Those, he says, include plans to open a cidery, the details of which he expects he'll be ready to share within the next month or so.
“I've been wanting to get out of retail and into manufacturing for some time,” he says of that new proposed venture. And he welcomes that new challenge. “I did this for a long time. I'm just done.” — Pete Freedman