When shows at C2G Music Hall came to an abrupt halt during this year’s pandemic, Mark Minnick could easily have thrown his hands in the air and called it a year.
But instead he found a way to make the music venue even better than before.
New reception area
“In February we started seeing cancelations of everything and kind of sat back,” Minnick said. “The pandemic affected us radically, but it gave us time to reflect. I formed a small group to do some analysis to find the right way to give a better experience to people coming to our shows. We wanted to look at everything from the patrons’ or customers’ point of view.”
Some of that reflection focused on the performance nights themselves and how to make that more comfortable for those arriving for the shows.
“If a show starts at 8, we open the doors at 7,” Minnick said. “Sometimes there will be 150 people standing out there, and it may be cold out. Plus when you open the doors, people come flooding in, and we scan their tickets before they can go find their seats. I know sometimes when I go to the Embassy, this has happened to me.
“We thought if we had a reception area, people could go there for a while until it’s time for the music hall to open. We realize that there are various things going on like sound checks which mean that the people can’t get in there until a certain time. We have a good sized area, 2,500 square feet, so if we take down some walls and make use of the space with the classrooms and hallways, we can have a nice-sized area for some tables and chairs where people can wait.”
An additional stage
Another big change will be the addition of another stage with a more intimate setting. Although larger national acts can easily fill the 500-seat room with the larger stage, Minnick thought a smaller stage would serve local performers and other smaller events more efficiently.
“If a local performer is playing and is going to draw 50 or 70 people, it doesn’t make sense to put it in the larger space,” he said. “You’re not doing anyone any favors, and it’s expensive to do. We’re sculpting this new area so that we can do shows that may draw 80 to 100 people instead of 500. We’ll have great sound systems and great projections. We can do more shows and make the experience more fun.”
It isn’t just the musical experience for performers and audiences that are getting a makeover. It’s the other aspect of coming out for a great night out.
“We’re also changing the bar set-up,” Minnicl said. “We’ve always had a temporary bar which we’re replacing with a permanent one.
“Our food selection has always been limited, mostly sandwiches and snacks. We’re going to expand the menu and redo the kitchen so we can offer 12 entrees. Not gourmet food, but good Fort Wayne food. Pub food.”
The new format of the venue will also mean they no longer have to compete with the neighbors who tend to steal their customers.
“Whenever there was a TinCaps game, it made it difficult for us to have any events, and people didn’t want to pay for parking,” Minnick said. “We finally decided we wouldn’t go up against any TinCaps games, which took 70 to 80 nights off our schedule and a lot of weekends out of our schedule.
“Now people can come here for a bite to eat before the game, and if it’s a blowout they can come back over for a beer or a snack. We’re hoping some nights maybe 100 people will come in after a game, so now we can tie in to the TinCaps instead of avoiding their games.”
Centre of attention
With all of these changes, C2G Music Hall will now be called the Baker Street Centre. With things still up in the air as to the status of social distancing and the ability to schedule events, Minnick said they’re taking that extra time to make sure everything in the venue is ready to roll.
Looking at upcoming events, he is aware that full programming is still a while away.
“We’re already starting our booking, and I see things getting better in the late spring,” he said. “There are still a lot of precautions we’re going to have to take through the winter, so logistically it’s going to take a long time. My guess is we have a few more months.
“We want to make sure that people feel safe and comfortable, and everyone is sensitive to the state regulations. And there’s still some hesitancy on the people’s part to participate in shows with crowded rooms. But right now we’re hoping to start having two to three shows starting in late spring.”
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