Update (Aug. 29, 2011): The free, all-ages show celebrating the completion of the renovations will be Thursday, Sept. 1, with The Old Ceremony and The Tomahawks. Doors are at 8 p.m.; show begins at 9. RSVP at the Facebook Event.
Anyone who has walked down Main Street in Carrboro in the last month has likely noticed a hubbub of activity at Cat's Cradle. Dumpsters of construction refuse, new sidewalks and a small horde of hired hands have inundated the institutional Triangle rock club in the past few weeks. This week, co-owner Frank Heath confirmed that the Cradle is indeed undergoing major renovations.
Improvements will include a new side door which will serve as the club's main entrance, a new stage, and an expansion of the club's main room. The risers that ringed the space have been torn out, as have the wall and hallway that separated the bar and bathroom area from the concert hall. The ceiling is being removed to add sprinklers, a safety feature the club previously lacked. Also planned are improvements to the club's green room area and restructuring to remove two poles that blocked key sight lines. It's likely the changes will increase the venue's capacity, which currently sits at about 600, but Heath said it was too early in the process to set a number.
The club has been closed for renovations since two sold-out Archers of Loaf reunion gigs last weekend. The first phases of the remodel began in mid-July. Most of the major alterations will be completed when the Cradle reopens on Wednesday to host The Hold Steady.
"The club's been in the basic state that it's in for 18 years," Heath said. "I'm looking at this as a long-needed improvement that will sort of be a link to whatever happens after that. We'll make it so we're solidly a major stopping-off point. Just improving the stage, getting rid of some of the quirks of the club, it will just help with touring acts, getting more touring acts and getting some larger shows."
The Cradle is choosing to carry out these improvements in spite of the fact that it likely will have to find a new space in the near future. The strip mall the venue shares with the Carrboro ArtsCenter and Amante Gourmet Pizza sits on the planned location of the 300 E. Main St. development project, which will include a 144-room hotel and a six-level parking deck. Heath says the estimates he has received give him anywhere from two to six years before the Cradle would have to move. He wouldn't go into specifics about the cost of the renovations, but said it was into the six-figure range.
The Cradle is planning a free show shortly after they reopen to let people come in and see the changes, but no details have been announced.