When its owner abruptly shuttered the Comet Tavern last month, the iconic Capitol Hill dive bar and music venue faced an uncertain future. And while several parties expressed interest and even bid to lease the space, an announcement today stated that nightlife duo Dave Meinert and Jason Lajeunesse have taken it over.
According to a press release, Lajeunesse and Meinert signed the lease yesterday.
"The owners expect to have the Capitol Hill establishment open by early 2014," the press statement says, adding that the "the pair...will be digging deep into the rich history of the Comet Tavern, and honoring its place and purpose as a neighborhood tavern."
"We plan to continue to have some live music, but not every night of the week," says Lajeunesse, adding that there will be additions such as a small food menu.
Not everyone is happy about the deal; speaking with the Stranger yesterday, musician Ian Hill noted that he and wife Allison were in talks with the building's owner, Charlie Chao, but that they were outbid by a substantial amount of money.
Meinert and Lajeunesse own Lost Lake Cafe, which shares a building with the Comet, as well as Barboza and Big Mario's Pizza on Capitol Hill. Meinert was also responsible for purchasing the 5 Point Cafe when it faced seemingly-imminent closure in 2009. Lajeunesse is the owner and operator of the Capitol Hill Block Party, which takes place on Pike Street in front of the Comet.
The pair are also reportedly in the process of taking over another beloved-yet-troubled Capitol Hill establishment, the Canterbury.
"Additional details" have yet to be revealed, and there's no word on whether or not long-time booking manager Michelle "Mama Casserole" Smith will be staying with the tavern. Smith was largely responsible for breaking the news about the Comet's closure via Facebook, and has also been instrumental in assisting bands who had booked shows at the venue find new spaces.
Smith and the Comet's Facebook page have yet to release a comment on the deal.