BREAKING NEWS: World Cafe Live at the Queen to Close In May

Filed in Arts and Entertainment, Featured by on January 24, 2017

This is not good news for music lovers or for the revitalization of the City.  WCL at the Queen will close its doors on May 25. The reason? They just couldn’t make a financial go of it.  From the announcement e-mail:

On Tuesday afternoon we will be officially announcing that World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, DE will close its doors on May 25, 2017.  Please excuse this group email, but I wanted you to hear this disappointing news directly from me.

It was about 10 years ago when I first visited “her majesty.” That was before the Great Recession.  The optimism of those times convinced everyone involved, including me, that Wilmington’s time had come for a long overdue renaissance after years of decay, especially the blighted wreck that was lower Market Street.  When I think about how lower Market Street looked and felt 10 years ago vs. today, it’s hard to believe it’s the same place.  However, even though lots has improved physically on much of Market Street, the revitalization has just not been strong enough and fast enough to support our robust 7-day/week WCL model.  So, while I’m certainly noquitter, you really do have to “know when to fold.”

I’ve seen so many great concerts at the Queen, and especially enjoyed the upstairs shows of lesser-known, but high quality performers.

I am very sorry to lose this cultural treasure and place to gather and enjoy great music.

About the Author ()

Comments (36)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Brian Stephan says:

    “the revitalization has just not been strong enough and fast enough to support our robust 7-day/week WCL model. ”

    Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but doesn’t that phrasing seem to leave the door open for a modified business model? Something < 7 days/week?

  2. Brian: We got a long e-mail from the person who runs the Queen. I only excerpted a brief portion.

    The answer, unfortunately, is no. They will focus on the Philly location and may do a couple of other things, but, come May, the music stops at the Queen.

  3. Brian Stephan says:

    Well shit.

  4. Ben says:

    This is because of failed Trump/Carney policies.

  5. Maybe we can share some of our fave shows we saw there. The XPN Non-Commvention is near the top for me. Raphael Saddiq, Sarah Jarosz, The Jayhawks, Keb Mo, Ben Harper, and the Blind Boys of Alabama, to name but a few of the performers at that event.

  6. Also, the night that Lake Street Dive, before they hit it big, played to maybe 50 people upstairs. Whether it’s 50 or 5000, that band always gives its all.

  7. fightingbluehen says:

    Damn, where will the aging hippies go to see their Grateful Dead tribute bands now? Didly, dang, twang, diddly doo, twang, and some bells, right?

  8. bamboozer says:

    Yet another disaster for Delaware’s musicians and live music fans, even worse we’ll lose one of the very few venues for original music in this state. As a musician this hits my like a Louisville Slugger to the back of the head. We’ll also lose a great concert hall at WCL Downstairs, killer place to see national acts, now we’ll have to go to Philly. Bummer!

  9. Ben says:

    FBH, you cute little Philistine, you.

  10. Well, he’s right. They’ve had tribute bands for acts I never heard of.

    But then again, I’m old.

  11. fightingbluehen says:

    I know, right. Totally cultureless.

  12. fightingbluehen says:

    ^^^I am^^^

  13. RE Vanella says:

    I was always worried about something like this. The Queen was only going 5 days a week for the past few years. Unless an act was booked the venue was closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

    Well, this is a test of BPG and Purzycki’s mettle. They have a very big interest in making something work in that space.

    I’ve also seen some great shows there. One of the highlights was blues legend Robert Cray. He’s a strong persuader.

  14. RE Vanella says:

    Also saw Bromberg sit in with a blues band upstairs a few times. Man this is a bummer.

    The shitty tribute acts were indeed a harbinger, yeah. It’s always an ominous sign…

  15. mouse says:

    Bottle and Cork

  16. fightingbluehen says:

    I still think I would enjoy Montana Wildaxe. I used to see them when they were called White Lighting. Ted Rollins, and Sharon Wiggill were still in the band at that time.

  17. According to the News-Journal, Buccini-Pollin intends to keep it as some sort of music venue:

    “World Cafe Live is leaving the Queen Theater and new management is headed in, keeping it as a live music venue, says Chris Buccini, co-president of the Buccini/Pollin Group, which redeveloped the historic theater.”

    I dunno, hard to see someone else making a better go of it than Hal did. But at least there’s some hope…but it’s a tough time for live music venues. The Tin Angel in Philly is also closing.

    I just hope that we don’t end up with a ‘public-private partnership’ that turns into a money pit subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

  18. Jason330 says:

    Yeah…Thanks John Carney. You suck.

  19. RE Vanella says:

    BPG to the rescue. Figures. Hey, it’s a great venue. If they can do something with it, good for them. But I agree with you, El Som. If the people from WCL can’t make a go of it, even with their history in Philly and an established record of booking big acts, how’s a new management team going do any better?

  20. Yeah, Carney, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!

  21. chris says:

    If World Café folks from Philly cant make this go, then ‘new managers’ wont be able to either.

  22. Brian Stephan says:


  23. liberalgeek says:

    I have been to the annual Wilmo Rock Circus a few times, which was a great way to see some local artists. In the spring, I got to see The Cowboy Junkies there.

    I wonder if they don’t break it into two different venues and let two companies have a go at it with a restaurant/venue and a large event venue.

  24. Wow, the Cowboy Junkies. You must be almost as old as I am. That first album which, if memory serves, was recorded in a church, was an aural pleasure.

  25. liberalgeek says:

    It was. The Trinity Session. I feel like Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black “Looks like I’m gonna have to buy The Trinity Session again”

  26. More breaking news!:

    WDEL’s Amy Cherry reports that ticket vultures Live Nation will be booking concerts into WCL.

    John Rago says ‘It’s going to be better than ever.”

    Not with Live Nation sucking every nickel it can out of concertgoers pockets, it won’t. The word ‘predatory’ comes to mind. Nice that we all helped to fix up that building so these leeches could swarm in.

  27. One more thing. It is now clear that Buccini-Pollin and Buccini-Pollin’s mayor were working on this for awhile, perhaps w/o even the knowledge of the current ownership of WCL.

    All I can say is, that there had better not be a penny, a PENNY, of taxpayers’ money going to these Live Nation predators.

    It’s perhaps the principal concern I have with Mayor Mike. His deals that cost the taxpayers money. I think, though, that when John Carney talks about ‘public-private partnerships’, this is what he has in mind. Public dollars that benefit corporate coffers.

  28. Alby says:

    For those of us who don’t do live music, what is Live Nation?

  29. One more mini-screed. From Ryan Cormier’s piece in the News-Journal:

    “The cash to fund the venue’s $25 million renovation came from public and private sources. Tax credits yielded about $11 million, and the city gave $3 million, The News Journal reported in 2011. The other half came from a combination of foundation grants, state funds, corporate donations and individual contributions.”

    For that, we now get the privilege to pay through the nose? As a taxpayer, I want our money back.

  30. They’re this monster corporation that merged with Ticketmaster, then promptly lost a huge lawsuit due to deceptive practices (alleged processing fees for which there was no processing). They own some venues, including, I believe, the House of Blues franchise, they manage others, and they lease others. They also run big festivals.

    For most high profile shows, you can only go through them for tickets, and the markups are outrageous.

    To put it succinctly, they are “America’s Official Ticket Gougers”.

    Here’s a piece that sums up what people hate about Live Nation:

  31. private people donated that money thinking the project would succeed. it didn’t. their choice, no guarantees. as for the tax money, the people who liked the idea of the queen weren’t complaining then (i don’t think). again, just a losing bet — except that wilmington got a few years of great music that it would not have gotten on a regular basis without this arrangement. almost nothing like this succeeds for long in wilmington. philly’s too close and the locals are kind of lazy. live nation may be (is) predatory, and it won’t put on nearly as many shows as wcl did because there’s clearly no market for that. but at least we can decide to pay the jacked-up prices or not and some good bands will be here. local acts don’t count. you can see them anywhere.

  32. Pretty good analysis. I complained then, but I ALWAYS complain.

    My point, though, is that negotiations between (at least) Buccini-Pollin and Live Nation have already taken place behind the scenes. I want to know if any more public money, tax credits, and/or the like, will be paid to Live Nation.

    Because it sure as shit shouldn’t.

  33. Anono says:

    “I want to know if any more public money, tax credits, and/or the like, will be paid to Live Nation.

    Because it sure as shit shouldn’t.”

    Really, your worried and up in arms about the pittance tax breaks that Live Nation received.



  34. Hello-o-o, is this mic on?

    I can walk and chew gum at the same time. Can you?

    The story broke today about WCL at the Queen. So we talked about it.

    Plus, you’re ignorant. ‘Your boy Markell’? Read the blog for the last eight years?

    Oh, and don’t tell me what I ‘should’ be doing. ‘Cause I’m not listening.

    Sheer. Idiocy.

  35. liberalgeek says:

    But Anono said it with ALL CAPS!!!1!1! so it must be important.