Berbati's Pan underwent a seismic shift yesterday when owner Ted Papaioannou decided to eliminate the booking and promoting arm of the venerable downtown club, essentially turning the 500-capacity club into a rental space for the first time in its 13-year history.
"We had to do some changes," Papaioannou told Willamette Week today. "Too much funds were being taken from the bar and restaurant and being put into the music venue."
In an attempt to stop the loss, Papaioannou laid off Chantelle Hylton, the Portland scene fixture who has been booking the club and overseeing show promotion for the last two and a half years. Now, Papaioannou says, shows at the club will be put on by outside entities like Thrasher Presents and Monqui Presents.
"I've known for a while that they haven't been rolling in the dough," says Hylton, who claims that in the past few months the club has been averaging an attendance of about 200 per show, an improvement over past numbers. "I know that running a club is a difficult business and I think that everyone who works there expected that this would happen at some point. But I'm surprised that it happened this way; I'm surprised that they didn't include me more."
Papaioannou claims any rumors that the club is closing or changing hands are uninformed, saying the club will remain a part of the Berbati's establishment for the foreseeable future. He also says the rental status of the space might be temporary.
"We will see how things go for the next few weeks," Papaioannou says.
As for the shows currently on Berbati's calendar, Hylton says not all dates are secure but she is doing her best to assure they remain at the club, many under her production company title, "Blackbird Presents." Soon, though, more of Hylton's energies will be focused on the Towne Lounge, the small westside club she has also been booking for the past year.
"I'm moving everything I care about over to the Towne Lounge," Hylton says. "The more experimental shows and the regular shows that didn't quite feel like they belonged at Berbati's, like Housewarming, the Church of Psychedelia and Cosmic Skronk. The Towne Lounge is a perfect place for me to do the things I love in a less big-business atmosphere."
NOTE: This story published to the web on 1/5/2006.