This has not been a good week for Fort Worth bars.
On Sunday night, University Drive watering hole/music venue The Grotto held its final show (scroll down in link).
On Monday, west-side hangout Baker St. Pub & Grill abruptly closed on Camp Bowie, with two Houston-area locations of the Houston-based chain closing as well.
Also on Monday, Fort Worth Weekly reported that long-running TCU-area bar/venue The Aardvark will close Feb. 1, which might be the biggest bar-shutdown of them all.
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Danny Weaver, who has owned the club since 1998, told Weekly reporter Steve Steward that he was selling the venue to Christ Chapel Bible Church, an Arlington Heights mega-church that has been holding a church service at the Berry Street bar every Sunday for the past several years.
On Facebook, the mourning has begun. “No. No. No. Probably one of the worst things to ever happen. This better be FAKE NEWS!,” says one post.
The Aardvark is older than some of its current clientele. It opened in 1995, evolving from the Rail, which in turn evolved from The HOP. Among the first bands booked there was Dallas’ popular Old 97’s, nearly two years before their breakthrough album, “Too Far to Care,” was released.
The club went through a makeover in 2000, with Weaver telling the Star-Telegram, “It’s a whole new club,” with a new bar, new stage and a new floor plan, as Weaver bought and expanded into space next door.
Weaver, who is also a musician, told the Weekly that he’s ready for a change: “I have an 8-year-old and a 6-year-old, and they’re starting to ask why dad isn’t at dinner or at breakfast or at a baseball game,” he told Steward. According to the Weekly piece, Christ Chapel will “still maintain some food offerings, as well as live music, though obviously, the performances will be faith-oriented.”
According to Star-Telegram archives, Christ Chapel’s college services moved to the Aardvark around 2011, when students lost their space near the church’s main location on Birchman Avenue. What was supposed to be a temporary move became more long-term.
“Candles burned not far from a wall with Budweiser, Twisted Tea and Jack Daniel's signs,” the Star-Telegram’s Jim Jones wrote. “A table adorned with a red tablecloth held a stack of Bibles with a sign, ‘Grab a Bible.’ ”
Jamey Ice, who plays guitar in Green River Ordinance (and is a co-owner of Magnolia Avenue coffee bar/gastropub Brewed) told Weaver that Christ Chapel was looking for a college meeting place, according to the Star-Telegram story. Ice, who had been playing at the Aardvark since he was 12, attended Christ Chapel when he was in town, according to the Star-Telegram report.