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Arts & Life

After efforts fail to ease pandemic-related 'financial burden,' the Riot Room in Westport closes

riot room.jpg
Laura Spencer
/
KCUR 89.3
The Riot Room in Westport closed on Friday. By Monday, the windows had been covered.

The Riot Room at 4048 Broadway, described as "dimly lit and loud," was known for hosting music six nights a week, DJ nights and patio parties — as well as serving craft and boutique beer. It closed on Friday.

The farewells started to crop up on social media over the weekend, lamenting the end of the Riot Room near the corner of Westport Rd. and Broadway.

On Monday, owner Tim Gutschenritter confirmed that the venue had closed its doors on Friday.

"Yes," he said. "The Riot Room is closed."

And fans gave voice to their disappointment, detailing special memories they held.

In 2008, Gutschenritter and his brother Dallas opened the Riot Room in the former site of another popular, now closed, bar called the Hurricane.

"The Riot Room is special to us," musician and RecordBar co-owner Steve Tulipana wrote in an email. "I personally performed there many times over the years."

He added, "Dallas and Tim Gutschenritter are great people that I've known since they were kids. My band took them on tour when they were still in high school. I commend them for making it to 13 years. This is not an easy business."

According to Gutschenritter, closing the Riot Room came down to finances.

"We did not receive our grant money from the SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) as of yet. So that's put us in financial burden," he explained, "and our landlord of the property has leased the property to someone else."

Gutschenritter said he's "not at liberty to say who's taking over the space." But, he added, it won't be anything like the Riot Room.

Like many other music venues, the Riot Room, which relied on a steady stream of touring bands and their audiences, was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gutschenritter told KCUR earlier this year that revenue was down 90% in 2020 and the first few months of 2021. They applied for COVID-19 relief funds and started a GoFundMe campaign.

"We had a GoFundMe going," he said. "We raised, I think, $15,000. The goal was $50 (thousand), so we didn't get where we needed to be, but we appreciate everyone for donating. It means the world to us."

The performances still listed on the Riot Room's website, he said, will likely be moved to other locations in Kansas City.

As for the next steps? "We don't really know what our next move is yet," he said. "We're still kind of processing everything and I'm trying to figure out where we want to take it."

Gutschenritter shared, "We've been in business 13 years. So the Kansas City community we hold true to our hearts, man, the culture and the music and the art — that's what we live for."

This story was updated to include a comment by Steve Tulipana.

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