Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Get Out! Local Establishment Obituaries

Scott-Ja-Mama's BBQ, located at 206 N. 4th in downtown Coeur d'Alene died recently of unknown causes. It was born on July 1st, 2005 to owner Jeff Woolsey, who had high hopes for the place after relocating here all the way from his hometown of Minneapolis. His uncle Scott had a BBQ place over there, and that provided the original inspiration. The main draw at the restaurant was the homemade sauce and the big portions of slow-cooked meats.

There was quite a buzz when the place opened, everyone telling me "Oh god, you've got to try Scott-Ja-Mama's, it's just great!" I remember my friend Mark raving about the cole slaw saying "I totally hate cole slaw, but they've got the best cole slaw I've ever had." He always had a tub full of the stuff for a while when he was tending bar at Mik-n-Mac's.

On my one and only visit, I ordered a pulled pork sandwich to go. It wasn't anything to write Condoleeza Rice about, but it was alright. It was totally deadsville in there and it seems that was the usual thing - every time I drove by there it was empty. I was kind of rooting for the place, I liked the bald-guy logo. But ultimately, I had a gut feeling it wouldn't last long in it's slightly off the beaten path location in a building that seems a bit cursed anyway.

The Rock Joint, located on Hayden Ave. in Hayden died recently of bad ownership and mismanagement. It was born on June 15, 2007 to owners Trace and Randi I-Can't-Remember-Thier-Last-Name. Oh, how it held such promise, but save for a night or two, it turned out to be nothing but a an over-hyped money pit, eventually ending in disappointment and disaster.

I attended the pre-opening "shake down cruise" with a few friends and was so incredibly impressed with the food and service it resulted in a column that was so flowery with praise that it had readers accusing me of accepting payola. But it really was great at first, and who could forget sexi-mexi waiter Curt (see pic), who ended up bailing off the sinking ship very early on. My sister-friend Colleen got a job booking shows out there and that's about when things started to go south. The owners had spent a jillion dollars on setting up the place: leather couches, red velvet walls, collectible rock star stuff, dozens of huge TV's, and a state of the art sound system.

Problem was, they had NO IDEA how to run a nightclub. The crowds never really came. They'd fail to advertise shows for bands they wouldn't even listen to before booking them, then chase them offstage as soon as they decided they didn't like what they heard, leaving what little audience they had angry and confused. An outdoor daytime death metal music festival resulted in venomous hatred from the residential neighbors, and piqued the interest of police officers, who made it a habit of stopping by to harass customers most nights from then on. After a disastrous food bank benefit show at which the owners shut down a capacity Scatterbox gig (one of the Northwest's most famous punk acts) after two songs because they "didn't know they were getting a punk band", the fate of the Rock Joint was sealed. No one ever returned and the owners bailed, selling the name "Rock Joint" to a bar in New York City and going into hiding still owing their employees money.

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