In a city with as rich a history as Athens, Boogie’s in Athens Alley blends its past with some new touches. Kara Hair and her husband, Greg, are new owners of the venue.
“The owner and I got to talking about it and this building was vacant,” Kara said. “He had been using it some for private events. He wanted to see more come of it but didn't have the time. We decided to re-open this as an event venue. We've already had a wedding here and the live music has been very successful.”
Athens Alley is in the northwest corner of Old Town Athens. In days gone by, that section of the city housed the first Henderson County Coca-Cola bottling plant, the ice house and some rowdy night spots.
Boogie’s is in a spacious century-old building on North Prairieville Street that was once the home of an early Buick dealership. More recently, it was an antique store and has housed a restaurant. The red brick walls and the wooden ceiling retain the look of a bygone era.
“We lost so much history in the last couple of years in town, but I would like to see what we have left continue so future generations can enjoy it,” Kara said.
Hair said a few repairs must be made, but the building was set up well for its purpose.
Once you step inside the door, the room seems to go on forever. The stage is on the back wall.
“We've got artists lined up pretty much every Saturday night into June,” Kara said.
In April and May, some of the acts include Heather Nicole Harper, Loose Thread and the Tanner Sparks Band.
“Of course, any bands that are local, their friends and family will come out to see them,” she said. “Almost every band we've had here has had people come with them.”
Near the entrance, they've started a musicians wall, with signed pictures of the different artists who've performed there. On the opposite wall, Kara plans to honor those who've served in one of the branches of the military.
“People who have been here have loved it and one thing they say is that it feels comfortable,” Kara said. “It's not like so many places that feel like a bar. They pick up their feet and feel like their at home. I'm glad we've been able to bring people together from all walks of life to come here and enjoy it.”
Karaoke has become another popular event at the Alley. Kara said images of Karaoke bringing out a long line of talentless, would-be singers is not what you'll find at Boogie’s.
“We had talked about having Karaoke competitions, but I would not want to be a judge for the people we have coming,” she said. We do serve food here on Saturday nights when we have concerts. We bring in food from Danny's Smokehouse to serve. And once we get the bakery going, we'll be serving food there as well.”
Near the center of the building is a dance floor, complete with a disco ball.
The 5,000-square-foot building can hold 247 people. The recent wedding ceremony was on the dance floor.
“After the wedding, they moved everything and moved everything for dancing,” Kara said.
A bakery will be in another part of the building with fresh bread and other goodies.
A couple of doors down, they've opened the East Texas Book Exchange.
“It's all used books,” Kara said. “We do allow exchanges, so they can bring in their old books and we'll give them credit for new books. We have more than 100,000 books in there.”
Boogies is at 412 N. Prairieville St. in Athens Alley, between the railroad tracks. Call 903-677-3684.