UPDATED — For sale: Boise indie/punk bar The Red Room


Back in the late ’80s/early ’90s, the iconic building at 1519 W. Main St. was known as Crazy Horse, an all-ages alt-rock club that featured bands ranging from Mudhoney to Korn.

Eventually, it became JD’s & Friends, which catered to both the headbanging crowd and the R&B/dance after-hours audience.

Then it became hippie-friendly Terrapin Station, a jam-band club perpetually rumored to be closing.

Finally, nearly three years ago, it was reborn as the new home of tattoo-friendly punk/indie bar The Red Room, which relocated there from Sixth and Main streets in Boise.

And as of a few days ago? The Red Room is for sale, without a liquor license, and potentially heading in an all-ages direction.

Red Room owner Mitch Thompson is looking for new blood to run the bar, he says — but not just anyone.

“I’m looking for the right person to kind of take it over,” he says. “We’re coming up on our (lease) term. I think it’s about time somebody in the community steps up and kind of finishes what we started.”

Since the move into the old Crazy Horse space, The Red Room has been open seven days a week and featured a variety of live music, both local and touring. It was even a venue for the Treefort Music Fest. But beginning this week — and at least until a buyer is found  — it will be open on a show-by-show basis, Thompson says. The next two nights that The Red Room will be open are Sept. 22 for Nocturnum and Sept. 27 for Piranhas BC, Thompson says, although the bar’s website doesn’t appear to be updated as of this posting. Facebook appears to be a better option.

“We’re just picking and choosing the events that we’re going to be open for,” Thompson says. “We’re doing a slight remodel, as well, to try and clean it up and refocus it a little bit.”

Speaking of focus: Thompson thinks The Red Room’s natural progression would be to cast its net slightly wider under new ownership — and to go all-ages.

“I think we occupy a pretty good, solid territory in the community,” he says. “I do see it evolving into reaching a broader group, but still being anchored by the punk and the rock and indie music that has always been at that venue ever since it has been The Crazy Horse. Evolving off that core clientele and that music genre.”

Thompson sold the bar’s liquor license last week, but The Red Room is still an over-21 venue. Beer and wine will continue to be available at shows. “It’ll be announced formally once we have an all-ages endorsement,” Thompson says.

Still, there are no guarantees. Building owner Ken Jenkins is simultaneously seeking a new tenant, and it’s possible that the space could wind up as a new nightclub entirely. Or vacant for a spell.

Maybe someone will take it over, start offering salsa dance lessons and call it The Ice Red Room. Or would Ice Crazy Horse be more appropriate?

Probably not. Jenkins says that he and Thompson are working together to find someone to take over the spot. “We’re just looking for someone to carry on the tradition,” Jenkins says.

Once The Red Room’s long-term lease ends Dec. 1, Jenkins is willing to allow Thompson to operate it on a month-to-month basis until a new bar owner is found.

Says Thompson: “If Dec. 1 comes and goes, more than likely we’re going to stay and keep the space active and keep interviewing for the right tenant to come in and take it over. I can’t say absolutely, but most likely.”


Michael Deeds is the Idaho Statesman’s entertainment columnist and Scene magazine editor. His column runs Fridays and Sundays. He appears on the 6 p.m. broadcast of "Today's 6 News" on Thursdays and hosts a music show, "The Other Studio," from 9-10 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.

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