Bourbon Street Alley will close its doors on Main Avenue Southwest for the last time on Sunday, but the owner hopes to open in a new location soon.
Donna Hedrick said she found out last week that she would have to move her business, which she bought in 2011, out of the building within 30 days. The owner, Carolina Solvents Inc., plans to sell the property.
Hedrick was on vacation in Florida for the week when she got the news. Her bartender read the letter to her over the phone.
“I called up here and I said, ‘Open it and read it,’” Hedrick said. “I thought, ‘I bet they went up on my rent.’”
Instead, it was a short letter asking her to vacate the building, where Bourbon Street has been for 20 years.
Now Hedrick is scrambling to use up her inventory, stop shipments of new food and drinks and move out everything inside, including heavy equipment. To give her time to move out, she’s holding one last hurrah starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday to use up food and drinks and give musicians one last time to play at the venue. Sunday will be the last day the bar is open.
To commemorate the bar, she’s selling shirts that say “This isn’t goodbye, it’s see you later.”
Hedrick says that will be true. She’s in search of a new place to reopen Bourbon Street under the same name and, she hopes, the same staff. She may even buy the building it's currently in, she said.
Despite hopes of reopening, she feels like the rug was pulled from under her, her staff and her customers. She can’t help but cry at the thought of losing her business and livelihood. She also mourns for her customers who’ve turned into family, she said.
“For some people, this is the only place they have. This is the only time they leave their house is to come here to sit and talk with their friends,” Hedrick said. “This is the people’s bar … they made this Bourbon Street. I wouldn’t be anything without them and now they have nowhere to go. I hate that for them.”
The bar is a place people have come to rely on for music, fellowship and community, she said.
“There’s a lot of memories here for me and a lot of people and we’re having to leave it,” Hedrick said.
During a tumultuous time, that community of customers the bar has created has reached out to help. They’ve offered trucks to move, muscles to lift, help with storage and even renovation skills for the new place, she said. It may take time, but with that community behind her Hedrick plans to reopen.
“I’m going to do what I can as soon as I can to give them a place,” she said. “The Bourbon Street name is going to go with me, too.”
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