After Almost Three Years, La Grange Shuts Down.
On Monday, she told her insurance company. On Tuesday, she locked the doors. On Wednesday, she told her staff. And, today, through a Facebook announcement posted first thing this morning, Stephanie Shchumacher told the rest of the world: La Grange, the classy music venue-meets-restaurant space she'd opened on December 30, 2009, right at the apex of the Deep Ellum rebuilding boom, will sadly be no more.
“We just basically ran out of time,” Schumacher tells Central Track this morning. Money and energy, too — to the point of borderline bankruptcy. “Every month we were in the red,” she continues. “Every month, I was just pulling money out of my pocket to pay for it. I was feeding it constantly.”
And so, the first order of business has already been handled: About a month and a half shy of the venue's three-year anniversary, the lights have been switched off and the doors have been locked.
The second order of business, meanwhile, is currently under way: Schumacher and La Grange talent buyer Scott Beggs are currently finding new homes for the shows that had been booked to the La Grange calendar. A David Ramirez show scheduled for tonight that will now take place at the Double Wide. They hope a Christmas show from Hagfish will find a home at Trees.
And the third order of business? Well, Schumacher hopes to get her life back in order. She'll continue to focus on her West Dallas-based snow cone trailer, which she says has been profitable since Day One, and, as she has been since at least last year, she'll continue looking for a buyer for the La Grange space she'd been renting from the Westdale management group whose properties almost monopolize the Deep Ellum area.
After all, she says, all the fixings that currently sit inside the space — the glass deer heads, the high definition projector and screen, and the art work along the walls, among them — still belong to her.
“I'm still hoping a buyer will step forward,” she says. “I still own everything in there. Rob [Schumacher, her husband] and I bought all that stuff. It's ours. And, honestly, the room is ready. Someone could open it today and have a sold-out show immediately.”
It's a gamble, is all. She now realizes that.
Still, Schumacher tried a number of different ways to stack the decks in her favor. When the property next door to La Grange became available, Schumacher scooped it up and opened a restaurant to pair with her music venue. Later, after deciding that restaurant ownership wasn't for her, she worked out a deal with the Rock and Roll Tacos food truck, allowing them to operate out of her kitchen and dining room space. But that deal too fizzled before long.
“We could just never find the right combination,” she says. “I don't even know if there is a right combination. Every time we reinvented ourselves, it just ended up costing more money and time.”
Still, though she sounds remorseful, Schumacher isn't expressing much regret.
She's sad, sure. — she and Rob were wed in La Grange, after all — but she remains hopeful for her own future and for that of her burgeoning snow cone company, which she hopes will continue to remain a fixture in West Dallas and on the ever-growing local festival circuit.
In other words? This isn't the last we've heard from her, necessarily.
“I'm going to go back and lick my wounds for the next few months,” she says, laughing a little. “Then, in the spring, the trailer opens again. For now, I'm going to focus on that.”