2016 | Entertainment & Events

Foreclosure Auction Called Off for Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

Owner says investors may bring on another company to help operate venue

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The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

Aaron Kraut

The foreclosure auction of the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club scheduled for Wednesday has been cancelled after the venue’s owner came to an agreement with an investor who filed a foreclosure notice in March.

Rick Brown, who bought the historic Bethesda Theatre and opened the music and event space in March 2013 after a multimillion dollar renovation, told Bethesda Beat Wednesday morning he and investors “have a potential operator that we’re going to look at joining forces with.”

A Virginia-based auction company announced the foreclosure auction earlier this month. The club has struggled financially and Brown put the 7719 Wisconsin Ave. building that houses the club up for sale for $8.5 million in early 2015.

But Brown said earlier this month the venue’s business is growing with more than $4.5 million in revenue expected this year. On Wednesday, he declined to discuss the details of his agreement with Ken Welch, the investor who filed the potential foreclosure notice in March against Bethesda Blues LLC, the entity that owns the historic theater property.

The theater debuted in 1938 as an art deco movie house and underwent a $12 million renovation in 2007 by developer Bozzuto, which built The Whitney apartment building above it.

In 2009, the nonprofit Bethesda Cultural Alliance was forced to halt its operations there, thanks to the economic downturn and a flood caused by malfunctioning plumbing elsewhere in the building that required a temporary closure in 2008.

In 2010, the property went to foreclosure auction and the bank that owned its mortgage bought the property back for $2 million.

Brown, a Silver Spring native and commercial real estate developer, said he originally wanted to lease the property to an outside operator when he bought it in 2011. But he decided to operate the club on his own and renovated it with a new sound system, lighting and bar area near the entrance.

The venue has a full-service kitchen and table seating for 300, plus another 200 stadium-style seats. It hosts a variety of musical acts, comedy shows and corporate events.