TOLEDO, Ohio — Changes are on the way for Frankie's Inner-City in east Toledo. The folks at the helm of the music venue are stepping down, making room for some new faces to come in and hopefully take the reins.
But, until someone steps up to run the place, the venue over on Main Street will close its doors after its final show, aptly called "The Celebration of Frankie's," on Saturday.
The building is owned by Rob Croak, but is managed by Innovation Concerts. The company has decided to shift its focus on the other area venues it oversees such as Civic Music Hall and Ottawa Tavern.
Broc Curry with Innovation Concerts has booked shows at Frankie's on and off for the last 20 years.
"I started booking shows at, like, 14. The city and Frankie's is where I wanted to be," he said.
The venue has served as a home base for local bands for decades, giving them a space to explore their talents and experiment within different genres.
Tim Franklin is the lead guitarist for Fremont band Castle No Kings. He knows first-hand the influence Frankie's has had on musicians just getting their legs under them in the business.
"Frankie’s is a second home for us. We (Castle No Kings) played our first show there, and played to maybe 20 people at the time," Franklin said. "Over the years, we’ve had the chance to play shows of all sizes and types. We’ve played to a room full of only our closest friends, and we’ve played shows with 350 people packed in there. Every time the same energy and feeling hits, it has its own special vibe."
Not only has the venue made its mark on the individuals and bands that played there, it seems to have helped mold the northwest Ohio music scene as a whole.
"It’s a place where kids can come and experience playing music for the first time without fear of judgment. Within those four walls, all you’ll find is support and encouragement. I think a huge reason our scene has been so successful is because of Frankie’s and the atmosphere it created," Franklin said.
WHY FRANKIE'S IS CLOSING (FOR NOW)
While most in the scene don't want to see Frankie's go, they realize it's time for the historic venue to take on a new chapter. Hopefully, the right person will step in and breathe new life into it. But, until then, the consensus seems to be that closing down is the right move for all parties involved.
Curry said that his team is getting stretched thin. Innovations Concerts currently produces 450-500 shows a year in Toledo.
"We are a small staff: myself and two other guys. It's just a lot on all of us," he said.
The company wants to cut down on the number of shows they produce by nearly half, and focus more on the quality of each production.
As for the musicians, Franklin said the closure, while sad, is a good chance to start fresh.
"It’s a very bittersweet feeling. It has served the scene for years, and it will be greatly missed. I cherish all the memories that I have there, but I’m excited to see what the future brings with Civic Music Hall and all of the shows that will be able to be thrown there now," he said. "I think Frankie’s has lived a life, but it’s time for the doors to close, and a new era for Toledo music to begin."
Curry said that so far, there has not been a lot of serious interest in running it full time. However, he's confident the closure won't be a permanent good-bye. Frankie's has temporarily shut down a few times over the course of its long lifespan on the east side, but has always seemed to find its way back again.
'THE CELEBRATION OF FRANKIE'S'
Saturday's show will serve as a "last hoorah" for Frankie's Inner-City as, at this time, its future is unclear.
"It's a night to focus on Frankie's and the music scene with really solid local acts," Curry said.
The lineup is packed with favorites of the 419 to take on the venue's stage for what could be the last time, including:
Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 in advance, $7 at the door and $8 for anyone under the age of 21.
THE HISTORY OF FRANKIE'S
According to Curry, Frankie's has lived on the east side since the late '40s. Before that, it had sat over on Adams Street in Toledo's uptown area.
Before it became a hub for local and regional artists, it was a popular, family-owned Italian restaurant of the the same name. Live music was provided as folks enjoyed platefuls of authentic cuisine.
Curry said the shift toward music came in the mid to late 1980s after Croak took over the business. The new venture quickly took off, housing big names like Nirvana, Limp Bizkit and the Goo Goo Dolls throughout the years.
"It was a place for alt rock when there was no other place in Toledo for that sort of thing," Curry said.
Since then, the stage has been graced by current hitmakers like The Black Keys as well as local favorites and folks just discovering their love of music.
While Frankie's Inner-City may be closing its doors, at least for a little while, most in the area have their own strange memories of the venue. Whether it's sneaking out to catch your boyfriend's cousin's band or catching a glimpse of the newest group on its way to stardom, there are plenty of stories to be shared.
If you wish to share your own photos or stories of Frankie's Inner-City, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.