The Pabst Theater Group announced on Monday it would close The Back Room @ Colectivo venue and has agreed to buy a commercial building at 1818 N. Farwell Ave. owned by New Land Development on the East Side of Milwaukee. The production company will open a new music venue and wedding facility inside a vacant part of the property.
The Back Room @ Colectivo and will close by the end of 2023 and the new venue will open in 2024, Pabst Theater Group officials said. The building is home to Domino’s, Ethiopian Cottage and Chopstix, which will remain as tenants. The Back Room opened in 2015.
The theater group wants to use a new space for future growth around Farwell Avenue and anticipates an influx of foot traffic from the incoming Brady Street hotel, CEO of Pabst Theater Group Gary Witt said in a statement. The group has worked with Colectivo Coffee for more than 20 years, he added.
“The Back Room itself happened as a bit of a happy accident, when we and our friends at Colectivo identified the need to bring more smaller bands into the market and offer them a space that nurtured their growth potential. In the nearly eight years since we’ve opened The Back Room, we’ve discovered how much it’s helped grow the Milwaukee club scene and support similar venues like it. We’re excited to keep this momentum and vitality going with a space that we can curate to better meet the needs of our audience and community and be part of the tremendous growth that Farwell Avenue is experiencing, including a new hotel,” Witt said in a statement.
The new venue will hold up to 450 people and will provide a larger space for live performances and special events, a spokesperson for The Pabst Theater Group told The Daily Reporter. The Back Room accommodates up to 300 people, the spokesperson added.
The theater group wants to improve the building’s façade with help from Cedarburg-based The Kubala Washatko Architects, officials said. The new venue will have upgraded artist accommodations, a special back alley, a garage for loading equipment for shows and a way for patrons to digitally order food delivery from three restaurants in the building, officials added.
The space the venue will go in has been empty for four years, officials said. New Land Development planned to use the space for weddings, but never enacted those plans, officials added.
Milwaukee band Scam Likely has sold out all-ages shows in the Back Room and credited the venue as a step toward legitimacy in the music industry, the band said.
“The Back Room @ Colectivo offered us the chance to show that we can put on a concert rather than just a gig, an important step towards legitimacy in the music industry for our band. There is something extraordinary about working with venues who have the willingness and eagerness to nurture local talent and treat us with the same importance as national acts on tour. Venues like The Back Room @ Colectivo have been quintessential to not only our growth, but the growth of the overall music scene in Milwaukee,” the band said in a statement.
The coffee shop venue has also hosted international touring artists who have gone on to sell out larger venues such as the Riverside Theater and Miller High Life Theater, officials said. The group will have the flexibility to make investments to take audience and artist experience to the next level and serve the artistic community with a customizable venue, officials added.
The new venue will be for all ages, letting young people come together and watch their favorite local bands play where alcohol is not available to them, officials said.
Pabst Theater Group operates The Pabst Theater, The Riverside Theater, Miller High Life Theater, Turner Hall Ballroom, The Fitzgerald and The Back Room @ Colectivo.