House of Blues hits Lansdowne
Boston entertainment prince Patrick T. Lyons, in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation of his Lansdowne Street clubs, has sold them to the House of Blues chain.
Lyons will concentrate on restaurants and other entertainment spots he has opened in Boston and elsewhere. He had closed the popular music venues Avalon and Axis, adjacent to Fenway Park, to turn them into a bigger, flashier complex called the Music Hall.
And the House of Blues, which started in 1992 in a small house on Winthrop Street in Harvard Square and closed a decade later, will return to its roots in the Boston area - though in a venue some 10 times the size of the original.
"We know a little bit about the DNA of the House of Blues," said Lyons, a cofounder of the first House of Blues club. "They have the ability to book shows and bring in talent. We feel very comfortable with them taking over this asset that's so near and dear to our hearts."
Going with the demographic flow, Lyons, 55, is moving out of the music club and show business, which he entered in Buffalo in the early 1970s. He moved to Boston as manager of 15 Lansdowne St. - later called Avalon - in 1978.
Lyons is selling his company, That's Entertainment Inc., which operates the clubs, to House of Blues Entertainment Inc. No price was disclosed.
of Blues Entertainment is owned by Live
Nation, which was spun out from media
Avalon and Axis closed in October and are scheduled to reopen by the end of the year as an expanded $14 million complex that will include a music venue to accommodate 2,500, a 350-seat lounge and function room, and a 125-seat restaurant.
Work is about to begin on the plan by Cambridge Seven Architects Inc. that Lyons and a partner commissioned, and Lyons will continue to oversee design and construction.
"The only thing that has changed is in place of a sign that says Lansdowne Music Hall, it will say House of Blues," Lyons said yesterday. He will continue to own the real estate and will be landlord under a long-term lease to the House of Blues, which will book and operate the club.
The House of Blues, with a larger capacity than Avalon and Axis (formerly known as Boston-Boston, Metro, Citi, and Spit), is expected to be able to attract bigger-name acts.
Aidan J. Scully, senior vice president of House of Blues development, said, "I'm a Boston boy. We're coming home - I'm very excited about it." Scully, raised in Malden, was general manager of the House of Blues in Cambridge for about 15 years. He also worked in other Boston clubs and knows Lyons.
"He understands the business well enough to put together a multifunctional facility," Scully said of Lyons. "What he envisioned wasn't that far off from what we would want."
Scully also said Boston's new House of Blues, with about 50,000 square feet, limited seating, and VIP boxes, would be unique. "Historically we have created these venues not to be cookie-cutter," he said.
But, he added: "When you walk in you're going to know it's the House of Blues."
The House of Blues has about a dozen locations that use the HOB name, and it operates other entertainment facilities as well. It also operates a nonprofit foundation that teaches public school students about the history of American music.
Lyons said he would focus on his restaurants and other establishments, including Game On with its three locations, including Fenway, Lucky's, also with three locations, and Summer Shack restaurants, with four locations co-owned with Jasper White.
Lyons will also soon open a 250-seat restaurant, as yet unnamed, under the bleachers at Fenway Park.
He is currently partnering with chef Lydia Shire in Scampo, an upscale restaurant to open at the new Liberty Hotel in the former jail on Charles Street. And Lyons operates restaurants in Atlantic City, plus a nightclub and two restaurants at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.
Thomas C. Palmer Jr.
January 29, 2008