THE Cellars at Eastney is set to close on August 1 after its management said harsh financial realities have forced them to call time on the venue.
The music, comedy and theatre venue in Cromwell Road has been putting on shows for nearly two decades.
The Cellars’ manager Steve Pitt said: ‘We’re just not getting enough people coming to enough gigs, it’s as simple as that.’
Bluetones frontman Mark Morriss has put on popular Christmas shows at The Cellars every year since 2008, and said: ‘I’m desperately sorry to hear that.
‘They are such good people – this is very sad news.’
Four years ago, a successful campaign was fought to save The Cellars from closure, when then-owners Enterprise Inns wanted to sell the venue.
A statement put on The Cellars’ website yesterday said: ‘The current landlord has been amazingly supportive and without him, the venue would certainly have closed in 2011 when then-owner Enterprise Inns were selling the freehold for development. However, he is simply no longer in a position to subsidise our rent, as he has done for some considerable time and the business is just not in a position to pay the rent in full. He is as gutted as we are that there is no viable way for the venue to continue. The Cellars would like to thank its committed and loyal customer base for all of their support.’
When the announcement was made on social media yesterday, the venue’s website crashed as so many people tried to access it.
‘That’s never happened when we’ve put any gigs up there’, added Mr Pitt. ‘It’s sad, but people are often only interested in the drama and bad news.’
But Mr Pitt wanted to remain positive in The Cellars’ final months: ‘We wanted to close under our own terms and not just fizzle out. We are running a full programme right through until the end of July. I want to make this a celebration, not a sad thing.
‘We’re still booking gigs and a lot of bands want to come back and play a final show.
‘We have done great things here and we want people to remember that.’
The venue’s final show has not yet been decided.