The Flying Anvil crashes

by Amy Kingsley

The Flying Anvil, a live music venue that opened in downtown Greensboro seven months ago to great fanfare, will be closing its doors by the end of the year unless new owners can be found.

Pete Schroth, the club’s primary owner, blamed personal obligations for his impending exit from the business. His youngest son has some health issues and, during the last seven months, hefty Flying Anvil responsibilities have interfered with doctor appointments and family time. Schroth acknowledged that the club had been having some financial difficulties recently.

The Flying Anvil opened in mid-April to an onslaught of media attention from across the Triad. GoTriad, Relish, YES! Weekly and the News & Record featured stories about the venture before and after it opened. During its brief existence the club hosted such high-profile acts as Leon Russell, Cat Power, Southern Culture on the Skids, Dar Williams and Johnny Winter.

“We took on a challenge when we started this place,” Schroth said. “When we bought it is was full of cars and oil.”

Schroth, Brian Crean and several other investors transformed the former garage into a swanky music establishment complete with brushed chrome bar and high-end sound system. At first the Flying Anvil opened with a full-service bar, which required memberships purchased three days before attendance. The policy, dictated by state blue laws, confused some music fans that drove in from across the region. They rid the club of liquor by summer and abolished the membership requirement after running afoul of Alcohol Law Enforcement.

“I think having liquor just confused people,” Schroth said. “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, but I think it seriously got in the way of the music.”

Brian Crean, an investor and bar manager, wrote in an e-mail he enjoyed working with Schroth and booking agent Andrew Dudek.

“It tears me up that I can’t help them make money any longer,” he wrote. “And, it tears me up that Greensboro might not be able to welcome back bands like the Avett Brothers, the Everybodyfields, the Mountain Goats and Cat Power.”

Dudek’s record store Gate City Noise, which relocated from Tate Street to the Flying Anvil when the space opened, is also closing on Dec. 22. Dudek does not plan to reopen the store in another location.

None of the three have solid plans for the future. Crean has offered to help transition the space to new owners if they come forward. He and Schroth said the space is ready for new owners who want to continue the space as the Flying Anvil or as something else.

“I would love for someone to walk in here and keep it going,” Schroth said. “We’ve got tons of contacts in the booking world. To me the hard part is over.”

For now Schroth will continue to work at the Green Bean, a coffee shop on Elm Street he also owns. His immediate plans after the Flying Anvil closes are simpler.

“With a business like this you basically don’t ever clock out,” Schroth said. “The first thing I’m going to do is clock out.”

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