The Marquee Lounge and Ugly Bettie’s Public House have two things in common:
1. They are the latest additions to the list of recently closed night spots.
2. Owners say business was going just fine.
Other than that, the two venues – one an upscale dance club with DJs, the other a dive bar with live music – couldn’t be more different.
The Marquee closed its doors Hoopfest weekend after its lease expired. Last week it was announced that the Marquee’s owner, Jeremy Tangen, is buying Ugly Bettie’s, located at 211 N. Division St.
Ugly Bettie’s closes after this weekend as renovations are set to begin soon to transform the venue, said Tangen, who also is part-owner of nearby Fast Eddie’s, located at 1 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.
“We’ve been looking in the general area for a long time, and the opportunity came up with Ugly Bettie’s and we put a deal together,” Tangen said. “It will be mid-September before we open.”
Tangen only hinted at what he would be turning the Ugly Bettie’s space into – he plans to tear out the stage and anticipates having live music and DJs outside on the patio but not necessarily inside. He did say that the new space won’t simply be a new Marquee.
“We knew we weren’t going to be renewing our lease at the Marquee, but this is a separate deal. There will be some food orientation and specific market set,” Tangen said. “We’re not closing the Marquee and opening up a new nightclub. I don’t expect there to be dancing at the new place. It will be a different theme and different atmosphere than the Marquee. We were there for five years, and it’s not to say I wouldn’t open another place like that, but right now we’re not able to find the right place and a decent price to hold the Marquee, so it made sense to focus in another direction.”
With a dedicated stage, lights and sound system, heated patio and central location, Ugly Bettie’s is one of few mid-size concert venues committed to live music in Spokane. It has been owned for the past three years by Rob Washburn and Deb Brown.
Washburn said Ugly Bettie’s was not on the market and wasn’t for sale, but the deal was too good to pass up, especially at this stage in his life, personally and professionally.
“The bar is doing well and making money. But we’ve put a lot of time and energy into this. We love it. We don’t want to see it go, but for our home life and from a family perspective – the longest we’ve been away from the bar is 30 hours, and we’re ready for a vacation,” Washburn said.