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The Daily Tar Heel

Lido's Targets All Crowds With New Atmosphere

After a brief stint as an oyster bar and restaurant, owner Giovanni Caligari closed Lido's, located at 137 E. Franklin St., due to the loud music from neighboring clubs and reports that it featured gay and lesbian theme nights.

Caligari said he also was not meeting the restaurant bar law that requires 40 percent sales to be in food.

"I had to open a private club because when it is a private club the amount of food you sell is up to you," Caligari said.

Becoming a club member requires completing a free application and waiting three days, as per a North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Commission Law. This lifetime membership allows you to bring eight guests or book a private party of up to 80 people, which is the club's full capacity.

Caligari said he thought customers' appetites decreased as a result of the noise problem.

"When I opened, other clubs around me put the music up and were shaking the building," Caligari said.

Caligari said he had to shut down Lido's temporarily to take care of the paper work that would change his restaurant bar to a private club.

"The bar is designed for everybody -- grad students, professors, undergrads, fraternities and sororities if they are over 21," Caligari said.

Chris Coty, who said he was Lido's manager at the time of its opening, was quoted in an Oct. 30 article in The Daily Tar Heel as saying Lido's would have gay and lesbian nights.

But Caligari rejected Coty's statement and said he closed the bar immediately because he said he was afraid Coty's statement would deter straight people.

"After I saw the article, I told (Coty) he could not work here," Caligari said. "There was never a specific gay or lesbian night here."

Coty could not be reached for comment last week.

Caligari said he gained about 300 members in the first week after reopening, citing the club's setting and music as factors in its success.

Lido's now features jazz and bluegrass music, along with free seafood and Italian snacks.

The club is open Tuesday through Sunday with live bands playing bluegrass, dixieland, blues and jazz music. There is a separate room for dining as well as an outdoor patio.

Caligari said Lido's attracted an older crowd when it first opened as a wine and oyster bar. But Caligari is in the planning process of serving oysters again, a specialty he said other restaurants have used successfully.

"This was the original oyster bar," he said. "I've always served oysters here, and I plan to keep serving oysters."

Although Caligari said business is thriving, he plans to advertise in the near future, especially to keep patrons informed about the performing acts.

"I have noticed that people have gone crazy for the jazz and bluegrass."

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