Paying respects... to fallen CoMo businesses

While we celebrate the greatest CoMO has to offer, we also have to remember those we lost: the businesses and local establishments that helped make this town great, but are sadly no more. Pour one out for each of these fallen friends.

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Athena Athena might go down in Columbia history as the location of the “bar fight” (it was actually over some chicken wings at the eatery part) that broke Stefhon Hannah’s nose and MU basketball career all in one night, as well as “that rap club the police closed down.” Although both of these statements contain truths (and word on the street is Hannah had it coming), it seems unfortunate this will be the lasting legacy of the club. Athena, along with Shattered, left a void that has this town putting its dancing shoes back in the closet. Athena disc jockey sets made it a mainstay in the Columbia hip-hop scene while most other clubs and venues seemed to dabble in the music at best, giving it a weekly night or an occasional hour on the turntables. Not only that, they packed that place for live concerts. Murphy Lee even rolled through once. Furthermore, although Athena may have had a few reported incidents, one can only assume that its location right outside of the downtown district meant a much lighter police presence than many of the downtown staples such as Campus Bar & Grill and Field House, which seem to have nearly as many major disturbances regardless. In Athena’s wake, we are still left with two unique Columbia restaurants in the same building the club once shared with them, but between them sits an empty dance floor still missing that bass drum beat.

Shattered Ask any random upperclassman about what he or she did their first week after moving to Columbia and MOVE will bet you $5 that at least one of those first delightful wasted evenings was spent at Shattered. A few members of the MOVE staff even made that trip, even standing outside in subzero temperatures to get in. It was a nice introduction to the CoMO nightlife scene for those new to it, for sure. Prior to its closure, Shattered was the destination of choice for the young people, thanks to its bottomless cup Wednesdays, bumpin’ beats and the relative ease of acquiring booze there. The hipsters dug it too, thanks to the indie-pop playlists on Thursday nights, which often consisted of danceable hits like The Faint’s “Worked Up So Sexual” and The Knife’s “Heartbeats.” But Shattered’s greatest contribution to CoMO nightlife was hands down its weekly ‘80s Night, by far the best retro dance party this town had at the time. The club also hosted open mic-style events like Top Drop Tuesdays, providing another outlet for local musicians. Granted, wide-eyed, booze-hungry freshmen have found other places to grind on each other to the sweet sounds of Flo Rida, and there are other open mics to be had. But we defy you to find a place where you can mosh, grind and safety dance to your heart’s content — sometimes all in the same night — quite like Shattered.

Village Wine and Cheese Nothing makes you feel classier than sitting at a street side table in springtime, sampling fancy cheeses and hors d’oeuvres with pretentious-sounding names and sipping on the house’s special vintage wines. Village Wine and Cheese offered a place where everyday folks could indulge in these Parisian pleasures, sip on wine and feel super classy while people watching. So farewell, Village Wine and Cheese. We’ll always have Broadway.

The No Coast Infoshop

Like Kevin’s World, the No Coast also seemed to have the odds stacked against it. It’s mere small identifying painted marker in the corner of a window created one of the most inauspicious locales in Columbia history. This meant that if you found The No Coast in the first place, squeezed between a dive bar and an abandoned natural food market, you might not even know you were there. The other hurdle it had to climb was that the info shop was funded entirely by donations. Each of these setbacks equally contributed to the short-lived run the No Coast had in Columbia. But it was good while it lasted. The No Coast provided two key things to the city that will hopefully reappear in the form of a new info shop, concert venue or collective gathering. First, it provided an alternative concert venue to The Blue Note and Mojo’s that attracted punk, hardcore, folk, rap, rockabilly and just about any other genre imaginable that may not have been highlighted as often at the major concert venues. Next, it provided a community space where Columbia kids could read from their large collection of books, listen to music or just meet kids like themselves. Luckily, there seemed to be enough passion behind this project that one could assume we haven’t heard the last from local venues of this kind.

Club Tropicana Club Tropicana is sorely missed. Its previous location on Cherry Street recently switched owners and increased Club Tropicana owner Joy Castillo’s rent, leaving her with no choice but to move out. Club Tropicana provided free salsa, reggaetón and merengue lessons a couple days out of the week and also worked in tandem with student organizations by giving them a portion of entry fees for fundraisers. Last year, with the help of Club Tropicana, the Hispanic American Leadership Organization was able to raise more than $1,000 for an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. Castillo even changed the club’s name from Spanish Fly to Club Tropicana in order to show the larger scope of bands and music playing, which ideally worked to bring in more clientele. Tropicana was also a favorite to ballroom dancers, which Castillo would cater to for a couple of hours before the crowds would shuffle in. A typical Saturday night at the Tropicana would begin with light Caribbean tin drums, brassy salsa and end with Latin pop and rap. Before Castillo had opened on Cherry, the Latin music could be heard in splashes over at the now defunct Music Café and The Blue Fugue. However, Castillo is still able to bring Latin/Tropical beats when her bartenders and DJs take over Sapphire Lounge Thursday and Friday nights.

Cat Jams If Cat Jams was an experiment in all that is glorious, the label, run by the ever-sassy feline Blanche (and former Maude Vintage co-owner Channing Kennedy), succeeded on all accounts. Six years spent representing admittedly underwhelming local bands sums up most of the label’s history, an admittedly overwhelming one rooted in the cat and co. And although the CD-R record label lost more money than it saw and didn’t launch any major musical careers, Cat Jams left an indelible mark on the Columbia local scene. Kennedy’s MC Cat Genius remixing Creed and Everclear alone was a high point. MOVE’s greatest memory of Cat Jams lies in its organization, particularly the bizarre that its legal owner was a cat. Columbia has Blanche to thank for six years of Kennedy in Santa Claus costumes. Imagine that. Before moving to San Francisco to study film, Kennedy and Blanche held a final hurrah for the label at Ragtag Cinema in January, a no-holds-barred fete featuring The Pows, a video retrospective and silly string. Kennedy even directed the audience into forming a human pyramid. The label ended as it began: the perfect mix of ridiculous and productive.

Kevin’s World of Music

In all fairness, even Kevin Walsh of Kevin’s World of Music seemed to give his clientele the impression his little record store was constantly on the verge of closing. And the unfortunate truth of the matter is closing down his store strictly to sell his merchandise on the Internet was probably a wise business decision. But this doesn’t make the loss of this store any less significant to the music community in Columbia. Kevin’s World, formerly located just across the street from The Blue Note, began more of a community of artists and personalities than a mere record store. It would probably not be your ideal destination to stop by on a Tuesday and pick up the new Hot Chip CD, but if you wanted to come in and browse through a vast array of old CDs and albums and talk music with a man whose knowledge and passion made it evident from the start that he wasn’t trying to sell you anything, this was the spot to do it. If you mentioned a band, and it struck a chord with the owner, he was likely to burn you a copy of a mixed tape of their biggest influence. And he connected local musicians, artists and activists alike simply through meetings and conversations. He seemed much more excited about this perk of the job than anything monetary. But as one of a kind as Kevin was, the sad truth is stores like his meeting this imminent fate is not nearly as unique as it should be.

9th Street Bookstore and Acorn Books If MOVE based its life solely on stereotypes (and who doesn’t really), it would expect a predominantly liberal college town with such a thriving local arts scene to have some pretty stellar array of eclectic independent book stores. Well, no more than a year or two ago, that stereotype would have proved overwhelmingly true, possibly even to a fault, with three local bookstores within a mere two blocks on Ninth Street. But apparently Columbia, like Cinderella (of hair metal, not slipper fame) didn’t know what we’d got until it was gone. The cleverly titled Columbia Books moved from its downtown location to Providence Street, and a combination of high rent prices in the district and the seemingly perpetual expansion of the Missouri Theatre caused the closing of both 9th Street Bookstore and the main location of Acorn Books, leaving downtown Columbia with the unfortunate lack of a book store (aside from the charming but only open on Saturdays Adams’ Books) for about a year. And that is an unfortunate truth for any downtown striving for any sort of individuality or uniqueness. As cool as The Blue Fugue is, a bar should never have the most books of downtown Columbia. It’s not like these two stores were just your run-of-the-mill bookstores. From the outside, 9th Street Bookstore gave off the appearance of a sort of Barnes & Noble Jr. But inside they had an impressive local section, a McSweeney’s section and an overly personable staff. And Acorn Books was the sort of place where even its biggest fault became part of its charm. It was so filled with books and narrowly aisled that it sometimes felt impossible to find whatever you came for. But this claustrophobic feel allowed you to simply browse their vast and eclectic for hours on end with the almost sure truth there would be some hidden gem mixed in the clutter. Collectively, they left a void in downtown Columbia that desperately needs to be filled.

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