"That is a presumption on the Examiner's part," said Rrazz Room publicist Thom Ward. He spoke directly to this reporter by phone on April 29. He said he had not seen the article which appeared over the weekend on Sunday in the SF Examiner's local news section.
He understood the hope that many in the cabaret and live entertainment community have in keeping venues going. Yet he regretted to say that despite many best efforts the Rrazz Room had to close.
In the early weeks of April, owners Rory Paull and Robert Kotonly posted their farewell letter at the "Live at The Rrazz" web site.
The letter mentioned that "it seemed that forces in the universe" were working against them and that the challenges were 'monumental.' When I tried to reach the owners through contacts I know who are close to them, to discuss what were those 'monumental challenges?' They declined to make any direct comment. Except, Kotonly did say via email through singer Carol Luchenbach
that, "our time in SF has meant a great deal to us and we are very saddened by the circumstances that occurred leading to this decision."
Many in the local cabaret community like singers, Linda Kosut, Lua Hadar
, Kathy Holly
and Luchenbach, all expressed their disappointment that the Rrazz was closing. Hadar had mentioned that she had heard there were issues with sound-proofing and such. Yet all the info released by the Rrazz Room at the time was vague.
It seems, as I gather it, that most of the disappointment centers around the fact that the Rrazz Room was the "heir-apparent" replacement to the long-standing Plush Room
at the York Hotel. Paull and Kotonly had been managing the Plush and doing well. Only, the owners of the York wanted to covert the venue to a restaurant for their guests.
Fortunately, for the cabaret scene Kotonly and Paull took a gamble and were eager to envision a new cabaret venue for the City. When the Rrazz Room officially opened five years ago
in 2008 at Hotel Nikko many singers were eager to make performing at the Rrazz a goal. In a town such as San Francisco that is in need of nightlife entertainment the Rrazz Room offered performers and musicians a lot of hope and anticipation.
For as it may not be evident at present but San Francisco like many major cities had a tradition of nightclubs and supper clubs;
so much so that it has been said that Hollywood stars would take the train from Los Angeles just to take in some of the nightclub entertainment in San Francisco. The Plush Room was among the last remaining vestiges of that era. To say that the Plush Room was a venerable place is an understatement. It was where the cabaret community of the City gathered, coveted to appear and prayed to be asked back to perform again. Ward even said that "the Rrazz filled a pretty significant niche" in the nightlife entertainment of the City.
The Rrazz Room in comparison to the Plush Room indeed had some "shoes to fill" as the saying goes. And for a little while the effort was impressive. In only five years as Ward pointed out the Rrazz was host to some of the most-well-known celebrities in show business.
This is why the news of the closing of the Rrazz Room is sad news. Of course there were critics (to be honest, me included) that considered the Rrazz very pricey. Regardless of that, I was happy to see the Rrazz Room's success. Kotonly and Paul and their staff were always gracious to me. And, like the Plush Room, the Rrazz ambiance and accommodations added a touch of class to the traditional cabaret experience.
Ward did not go into to much detail as to why the Rrazz Room was moved out of Hotel Nikko
to the Cadillac dealership building on Van Ness Ave.
He was able to verify that the issues regarding sound-proofing were a concern to Kotonly and Paull.
What puzzled me when I was told about the sound-noise issues at the Cadillac building is "why is that an issue? The former well-known and distinctive dealership building has been completely renovated and was home to a multiplex cinema for many years. Why would there be complaints?
I told Ward in our chat by phone that as a reporter who has sat in on many hearings and meetings over the years, people can bring up complaints to any good venture for just about any reason. Ward would only say that problems at the Cadillac building were already there but were not fully disclosed to Kotonly and Paull. Contract misunderstandings were more than they had anticipated.
"It cost money for them to move to the Cadillac building and Rory and Robert are not putting any more money into the sound-proofing." "They would have to re-do all of it, change everything," said Ward. "It's a shame that this happened," said Ward. San Francisco has lost a unique venue."