For 42 years, the Berkeley Cafe has served up sinfully overloaded cheeseburgers by day and artfully over-amplified guitars by night — a haven for Raleigh’s less cultivated tastes.
And though development is threatening the West Martin Street landmark, the Berkeley promised on its Facebook page Tuesday night that it’s not breathing its final gasp.
Earlier, musician Chet Nichols said it would “go out with a bang” on Nov. 11, and the Berkeley echoed his statement on Facebook Tuesday by saying, “Raleigh’s oldest music venue is not going out quietly.”
Later Tuesday, the Berkeley emphasized that it will not close, that “there are a lot of moving pieces” while the building is being rezoned, and it will soon have updated news.
Still, the announcement of a possible closure drew groans from the city’s last eccentrics.
”This city’s soul keeps getting sold to the highest bidder and replaced by empty office buildings and retail space no local business can afford to rent,” lamented Eric Supa Mercado. “I can’t wrap my head on how vanilla this place is, and it’s somehow getting worse.”
In the comment section, the Berkeley posted a note explaining that the building and lot are being sold, and the new owners want them out so they can use the space for a construction office.
All summer, the lot adjoining the old red-brick Berkeley has served as a flower garden and vegetable plot, tended by volunteers.
If the Berkeley does close, it would join a long casualty list of old-time nightspots that fed an early era’s vanishing taste: Sadlack’s, the Brewery, the Jackpot …
In its past, the Berkeley might host a metal band or a wrestling match. Jason and the Scorchers played there, as did Billy Joe Shaver, and of course Southern Culture on the Skids. Wanda Jackson stands out in a string of honky-tonk heroes.
One fan, digesting the string of comments, posted a perfect summation:
This story was originally published September 20, 2022 5:35 PM.
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