New owners breathe new life into once moribund site
New owners ramp up plenty of acts
For those who remember the glory days of Piere’s, a venue which was bringing in classic rock bands and contemporary juggernauts on a regular basis, the empty parking lot and building in need of some TLC has been a bittersweet sight.
After the passing of Stan Liddell in 2013, and with competition from other area hot spots, Piere’s seemed to have passed the torch to other venues. But three ambitious young men with strong backgrounds in venues and booking have picked up that torch and are bringing Piere’s back to life.
Mike Judy from St. Louis is partnering with two Chicago music men, Nick Katsilieris and Osmaan Raja, to bring new vision to the building and the lineup of music acts to come. The plan was just coming to fruition when fate intervened.
“We came in to view it in early March last year,” Judy said. “It was right before the pandemic hit, right around that first week of March. Once we saw it, then we really started to get serious about it. A couple weeks later we signed the papers.”
Although working in different cities and states, the three had known each other from their various efforts to book acts in and around their respective regions. Judy said thanks to 17 years in the business, he’d been offered opportunities to open his own place, but he always passed.
Piere’s was too good to pass up.
“Obviously with COVID the timing and situation wasn’t ideal,” he said. “But it certainly gave us time to get it right. The more we learned about the history of Piere’s and the market here in Fort Wayne, we knew we wanted to spruce it up. We wanted it to be really special.”
Room by Room
The Piere’s main room is already up and ready to go as is Bobby McGees Good Times Bar & Restaurant, with both facilities open for business. As those who have visited the large facility know, there are plenty of other rooms, and there are plans for all of them.
“We also have what we’ve named Stan’s Room which will be a mixed-purpose room,” Judy said. “It’ll hold 400 people or so, and we hope to get to the point where we can have shows going on in multiple rooms of the building. Those three are ready, and we wanted to make sure everything was right with them before we move on to rooms number four and five.
“We also plan to have outdoor events so that’ll give us six dedicated spaces for shows or other events. We’re still weighing our options.”
In fact, there are already plans taking shape for outdoor shows this summer. Music fans should keep an eye on the Piere’s social media outlets since many concerts and events are on the calendar but not yet finalized. Judy and his partners have been heartened by how much attention and excitement they’ve already seen from the area.
“When we were making plans to reopen Piere’s, we thought the response would be ‘Cool’ or ‘Let’s wait and see,’” Judy said. “But a week or so ago I posted on Facebook and asked who people wanted to see play, and I didn’t realize how excited people would be. I just didn’t expect the response to that post that I got. We had over 1200 comments in the first couple hours after I posted that.”
Judy plans to book a diverse lineup, keeping in mind the breadth of musical interests there are in this area. The venue is ostensibly now all ages, though management is reserving the right to limit some shows to 18 and up or 21 and up.
He promises “an eclectic lineup, something for everyone,” and said his work in St. Louis is helping him to double dip, as it were.
“A lot of times now I’ll be booking someone for St. Louis, and I’ll say, ‘Hey there’s this other venue in Fort Wayne.’ I’ve been able to get several acts just through that.”
There are also several other factors to consider. Even as many restrictions are softening, and there’s expected to be more loosening as people get the vaccine, some artists are asking for special seating to lessen potential of a super spreading event.
For example, the Corey Taylor concert in June will feature podded seating for four to six people at a distancing per artist stipulation.
Unsure how long some special seating requirements will last, Piere’s is moving forward as responsibly as possible. But it also means that the venue should see some big excitement in 2022.
“For 2021, it’s been COVID of course, but Piere’s was also no longer in databases, so we’ve had to get back into those databases of venues so people know it’s open again. But once we get going and are back in there, we expect 2022 to be wild.”