Open and shut cases

By JIM SULLIVAN  |  January 3, 2007

ROCK HARDER: The Hard Rock Café will move to a larger space near Faneuil Hall this summer.
The Phoenix is not called the Entertainment Authority for nothing. So here goes, with all the latest shifts in clubland.

The Rack, Paul Barclay’s upscale pool hall near Faneuil Hall, closed after 10 years when its lease was up at the end of December. But the space won’t be empty long. The Hard Rock Café Boston will move to the Clinton Street site this summer, also taking over the adjacent and long-vacant Uno’s Chicago Grill and knocking down the wall. The new Hard Rock will have 16,000-plus square feet of space and is expected to book bands on a more regular basis and on a larger scale. A press release from the Hard Rock International said it planned a 400-seat restaurant and a live-music area.

No one at Hard Rock International was available for comment, thanks to the holidays, so it’s not clear what the booking policy will be or if the Hard Rock intends to challenge venues such as Avalon, the Paradise, and the Middle East. Locally, a Hard Rock spokesperson said the restaurant would remain open at its present Clarendon Street location until the move.

With the Rack’s lease up, Barclay says, “We had options to renew and did battle over it” with the landlord, with whom he settled a lawsuit on December 27. Barclay says he had planned to close the Rack after New Year’s Eve, spend $4 million on renovations, and reopen the space without pool tables in March, emphasizing a “high-tech, Cirque du Soleil” feeling. Barclay has no doubt that his new club — named, but kept a secret — will open, likely this fall.

“I’m psyched,” he said. “This is great opportunity to free up my schedule. I’m going to take a few months off. This is my 29th year in business” — Barclay formerly owned the Comedy Connection — “and this is the best time to walk away and clear your head.”

Meanwhile, it looks like the Baseball Tavern is going to be getting live music. Eight months ago, the legendary pub situated near Fenway Park since 1963, moved a block down the road to 1270 Boylston Street, the site of the old Sofia’s. The Tavern now has three floors and a roof deck — and a 521-person capacity that’s more than double the old spot. “We’re trying to become more well-rounded and [make it] a year-round concept,” said general manager Adam Hawk. That is likely to mean live music in the basement with long-time Boston booker Martin Doyle taking over that end. Says Hawk, “It’s a cool room in the basement, an old-school rock room.” They hope that the music will launch in early February, but all of that is pending the granting of an entertainment license by the city.

Still, no one wants to push the baseball fans out. “That’s our bread and butter,” said Hawk. They’ll be catering to that crowd on the other floors, with pub food and libations.

And finally, after a gig by the Dave Johnston Band on January 30, Tir na nÓg in Somerville’s Union Square will be no more. “We were trying to renew the lease and the landlord put it on hold,” said manager/booker Robert Elliott, “and then he said he wasn’t going to renew the lease, he was going to take it back himself.” There is second-by-second countdown on their Web site, No word on what will replace it.

Related: Boston music news, October 12, 2007, Working girls, FARC, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Entertainment, Music, Pop and Rock Music,  More more >
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