Lola’s Saloon has always been larger in spirit than in size.
Since opening in 2006, the West 7th Street corridor club has hosted shows by some of the biggest and best underground bands on the planet, including Cold War Kids, The Sword, Fleet Foxes, The Pharcyde, The Polyphonic Spree, and popular locals Burning Hotels, Quaker City Night Hawks, Telegraph Canyon, Pinkish Black, and The Unlikely Candidates. The 3,500-square-foot space with a small front patio and generous back patio is frequently busy and occasionally reaches its 250-person capacity.
Co-owners Jon Carney, Brian Forella, and Ryan Higgs often dreamed about expanding in some way, mostly to be able to offer something in addition to music to tap into that part of the citizenry that’s not interested in cool, progressive sounds. The co-owners noticed the sprawling abandoned property behind the venue but could not track down the owner until an acquaintance, a real estate agent, came along with the right name and phone number. During the summer, the Lola’s guys found an investor, Fort Worth’s Brian Robertson, owner of Green Roofing and Construction, and in August, they signed a lease.
By late winter or early spring, Lola’s Saloon will be a spacious super-icehouse with a massive (16-by-20-foot) stage, parking for food trucks, and four beautiful, shade–producing old trees while remaining a cozy home for exceptional underground touring and local artists. The new Lola’s complex will be just over half an acre, spanning Foch Street between 6th and 5th streets.
“We can’t just be rock ’n’ roll Lola’s,” Forella said. “We have to expand our horizons.”
Higgs wants Lola’s to become a destination for everyone, not just creative types: “Right now, if you know Lola’s, you love it, but if you don’t, you just drive by.”
Lola’s Saloon and the yet-unnamed backyard at Lola’s will resemble –– and was inspired by –– The Foundry, The Rustic, Truck Yard, and a couple of other Dallas haunts that have popped up over the past few years and become incredibly successful. The Lola’s deal also includes an adjacent parking lot with about 50 spaces.
Since signing the lease, the Lola’s team has spruced up the existing saloon, starting with a new coat of paint outside, and has been getting the new property ready for all of the changes. The lone structure on the land, a 1,700-square-foot cinder block shed with windows, will be transformed into a bar outfitted with garage doors. The rest of the property will be given over to patio seating and the new stage. As the programming inside Lola’s will remain the same, Higgs said, the outdoor stage will be used mostly for daytime or early sets that won’t conflict with the music indoors or violate Fort Worth’s noise ordinance.
“We’re not going to make the outside be driven by music,” Forella said. “We’re hoping people hang out there. If we do music, we hope it just adds to [the experience]. It’s not just gonna be full-on inside/outside music, music, music.”
However, the Lola’s team intends to book at least one large, ticketed outdoor show per month.
Like Lola’s footprint, the staff will also double in size to a little more than 30 mostly part-time employees.
Construction on the backyard at Lola’s is set to begin on Monday, Nov. 17, right after Fort Worth Rock Assembly, a three-day festival that will take place partially on Lola’s back patio.
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