2016 | Real Estate

Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club Set for Foreclosure Auction

Historic Bethesda Theatre property underwent multimillion dollar renovation before reopening as music and event venue in 2013

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The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

Aaron Kraut

The Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club will be up for a foreclosure auction June 29, according to a press release from Virginia-based Auction Markets.

It’s unclear how the potential foreclosure would affect the club, which has struggled financially. The building that houses the club was put up for sale for $8.5 million in early 2015.

Owner Rick Brown, who bought the historic Bethesda Theatre and opened it as the Blues & Jazz Supper Club in March 2013 after a multimillion dollar renovation, said in a prepared statement that an investor filed a potential foreclosure notice in March and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is being considered.

But he also said the club’s business is growing with more than $4.5 million in revenue expected this year.

“We have been advised that a foreclosure notice has been published recently, but as of 10:30 a.m. today, I have not received this notice officially,” Brown wrote in a statement provided to Bethesda Beat.

“While Ken Welch [the investor] filed a potential foreclosure notice in March, we were aware that this action was possible. The actual foreclosure is against Bethesda Blues, LLC, as we understand, which is the owner of the real estate. This does not impact the operation of the Bethesda Blues & Jazz, LLC, which operates the business under a lease,” Brown wrote. “We will do whatever it takes to preserve the capital of the investors and with a growing business we hope to accomplish this. A potential Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is being considered, as this would allow us the time to re-organize and continue to serve the music lovers in the DMV.”

It wouldn’t be the first foreclosure auction for the historic space, located at 7719 Wisconsin Ave. In 2010, the property went to auction and received no outside bids. BB&T bought the property back for $2 million.

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

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.

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 hired veteran area music venue manager Ralph Camilli to help.

The club is home to a variety of music acts and also hosts events.

Auction Markets is marketing the 15,100-square-foot property as a nightclub. It has table seating for 300 and another 200 stadium-style seats, plus a stage, professional lighting, a bar and a full-service kitchen.

“It would be a sound choice for the club owner looking to break into the D.C. club scene,” said Stephen Karbelk of Auction Markets in the company’s press release announcing the auction. “It's one of those rare clubs that are loved by entertainers and customers alike, with an intimate setting that allows the artists to connect with their fans.”