2017 | Entertainment & Events

Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club Seeks $240,000 in Fundraising Campaign

Owner says project would fund upgrades and operating expenses

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Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

Aaron Kraut

The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club is looking for financial support to help fund upgrades and operating expenses for the performance venue.

The club is seeking $240,000 in an online fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. The money will go toward upgrading the sound system, creating a live-streaming service, developing a Youth Orchestra program and funding operating expenses.

“We are always looking for potential additional investment capital and thought the Indiegogo campaign would start to help us get over a couple of areas and would start to help us improve our programs and our offerings,” Rick Brown, the club’s owner, said Monday.

The campaign raised $4,530 by 2 p.m. Monday. It began collecting money last week.

The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, a 500-seat, 15,100-square-foot property at 7719 Wisconsin Ave., has struggled financially since it opened in 2013, and was for sale for $8.5 million starting in 2015. Last June, an investor filed a foreclosure notice, but the foreclosure was canceled later that month.

Brown then signed a settlement agreement with investors, which included a 30-year lease, in September.

Part of the plan for the new lease included rebranding the club as “Bethesda Live” to emphasize entertainment options beyond blues and jazz. However, Maryland Live Casino threatened a lawsuit over the name change, and Brown said the club would keep its old branding.

A video on the fundraising site notes the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club is not publicly supported or subsidized, unlike other venues it competes against in the area, such as Strathmore in North Bethesda and the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Brown said the fundraising campaign would help offset costs, but asserted that “business is going very well.”

The club is on target to bring in $5.6 million in revenue this year, after $4.8 million last year and $3.6 million in 2015, Brown said.

The theater debuted as an art deco movie house in 1938 before it underwent a $12 million renovation in 2007. Brown, a commercial real estate developer, bought the property in 2011 with the intent to lease it, but then decided to operate the club on his own.

The idea for the fundraising campaign came after Brown was approached by internet marketers who recommended the club seek support from its many social media followers and fans.

The club is offering perks to donors to the Indiegogo campaign, including ticket discounts, merchandise and backstage access

“To continue to keep the music really thriving in an established venue, we really appreciate anybody’s help,” Brown said. “If you see fit to contribute, we’re glad to share the perk with you and we hope to see you at the club soon.”

Disclosure: Bethesda Magazine publisher and editor-in-chief Steve Hull is an investor in Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.