Last year, Waiting Room owner Chris Ring closed his popular music club. The venue owner was forced to relocate over 40 shows and say goodbye to Waiting Room’s four years of prominence in the Buffalo music scene.
One year later, Ring’s new venue is continuing traditions and marking a “new beginning” for the club owner.
The new venue, Rec Room, officially opens its doors in September, bringing both local and international acts to Buffalo. Ring found a business partner in co-owner Dale Segal of Buffalo’s Encore restaurant, and the two found an ideal location for the venue: 79 W. Chippewa St.
Ring’s past club-ownership didn’t deter him from starting fresh, however, but gave him something to look for in a new venue.
During its final days, the downstairs portion of Waiting Room didn’t have enough fresh air intake, and was subject of several Buffalo code violations, according to Ring.
Ring thought that if he didn’t pay the rent, it would motivate his landlords to fix the problem. He was wrong and the landlords evicted Ring, forcing the Waiting Room to close its doors.
That didn’t stop Ring, who produces concerts for After Dark Entertainment, as he continually searched for a new venue to house his shows.
“Once we closed we still had a need for a venue. Since the day we closed, I looked through two or three buildings a week on average,” Ring said.
Ring eventually found 79 W. Chippewa, formerly The Lodge, and had some ideas.
“A friend of mine [Dale Segal] owned Encore in Buffalo and he’s always kicked around the idea of us doing something together … We got to talking and I was like ‘You know what, we can bring both of our talents down to Chippewa.'"
Ring and Segal, the former owner of the popular Buffalo sushi and steak restaurant, which closed earlier this year, hope their combined talents and ownership experience bring something different to Buffalo’s nightlife.
“Chris and I are idea guys and our first inclination is always to go big,” Segal wrote in an email. “Our different nightlife backgrounds created a synergy in the planning process that has carried over to the actual execution of those plans. There are things that he sees that I never would have thought of and vice versa. Again, that contributes a lot to the versatility of Rec Room.”
The versatility of the new venue goes beyond just Ring’s music booking history and Segal’s food experience. The venue will not only host live music events, but also host events, such as private parties and fundraisers.
Rec Room will also continue Waiting Room’s tradition of a Live Band Karaoke that Ring popularized at his former venue.
“The fact that we can go from a sold out rock show downstairs to hosting someone's charity happy hour party upstairs to a crazy wall to wall DJ fueled dance party in a 24 period will be something truly unique to the city,” Segal wrote.
Still, Ring said Segal’s experience with food will give his new venue something his former didn’t have.
“His ideas and his experience in the kitchen is absolutely a specialty... we have ideas of doing kitchen takeovers, showcases, whether a food truck comes in and takes over for events… Dale’s experience in that restaurant stuff is definitely a side that we never really had,” Ring said.
But the Rec Room is a music venue above anything else. With 19 shows already scheduled, Rec Room is set to host Andy Grammer, Kiiara and Shooter Jennings among others. Ring hopes to continue the musical diversity that the Waiting Room once housed.
“We still book all different genres … We still do a different mix of hip hop, EDM, indie, punk rock and we definitely want to continue those genres at this club,” Ring said.
With a variety of music, dining ideas and traditions carried over from past venues, both Ring and Segal are excited to pursue this next chapter.
“Our goal is to be an entertainment destination for all comers,” Segal said.
“There's something for everyone at Rec Room. I don't think anyone has seen anything quite like what we are doing here. That's what we bring to the table. Just wait to see what we have in store.”
Brenton Blanchet is the managing editor and can be reached at Brenton.Blanchet@ubspectrum.com and on twitter @BrentBlanchSpec
Brenton J. Blanchet is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of The Spectrum. His work has appeared in Billboard, Clash Magazine, DJBooth, PopCrush, The Face and more. Ask him about Mariah Carey.