Various scenesters have been grumbling about an untimely end for the eastside all-ages club Loveland after owner Mikey Wolfson laid off both club booker Drew Wilson and publicist Evelyn Weston last month. The closure of Loveland would be a big blow to all-ages concertgoers, an event which would wipe out one of the loveliest (and few) places for under-21 concertgoers in Portland. Rumors of closure aren't new for the building, which has hosted a few different clubs, but Wolfson says the Loveland name is here to stay.
Loveland's building, at 320 SE 2nd Ave., is a great space—it's just never been a great club, because it's never been an easy club to run. First, there's no booze revenue; second, the place is huge. Six hundred people can fit in that giant clubhouse. Imagine if they were all drinking beer. Obnoxious, yes. But profitable. Kids sharing Cokes? Cute. But not profitable. In a town where it's tough to keep any all-ages clubs open, though, the space has remained a player, if not a consistently named one. First it was B-Complex, then Meow Meow, and now Loveland.
Both B-Complex and Meow Meow had their respective days in the sun, but neither could make the space work for very long. Wolfson, who has managed the building since its B-Complex days and also runs Old Town's Food Hole, has taken a few measures in the past month to safeguard the future of his club. The first was to stop attempting to serve food, an understandable move considering the club's gritty locale and place in the universe.
"Clubs are not restaurants," says Wolfson, who is also co-owner of the East Burnside restaurant L'Astra. "And people don't want to eat at them."
Another lesson Wolfson learned is that it's incredibly hard for a 600-capacity all ages club to book shows on its own. The club was simply losing money, Wolfson says, except when outside promoters—Monqui, Thrasher, Kingbanana—put on shows. Doing the math, Wolfson let his booker and head of publicity go, turning the space into a rental hall for promoters.
Those two firings give the appearance that the club is faltering, but Wolfson claims there is nothing to worry about. He is simply finding a way to keep Loveland an open, available space for the community. But even in its streamlined form, there's no guarantee the club will make it past its one-year anniversary in February.
"It depends on how much of an appetite for entertainment Portland has," says Wolfson of this club-rich burg. "Those big groups aren't going to stop coming through Portland."
Wolfson's move will surely bring more of those big groups in for fans of all ages. Do what you got to do, I say. But without a booker to curate the club's musical aesthetic and a publicist to tell the world about it, Loveland might have lost its heart.