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The Daily Tar Heel

Nightlight to host benefit

Any student who sticks around Chapel Hill during the summer is no stranger to the deserted streets and businesses brought on by vacation.

But few realize that the effects of a slow summer still linger for a business after the school crowd comes back in the fall. Such is the case for Nightlight Bar & Club.

The venue has been plagued by numerous cancellations and poor summer patronage. This has led owner Alexis Mastromichalis to change Nightlight’s previous way of thinking.

“I can’t speak for other venues, but for us, having a business model that surrounds the idea of only putting on shows to bring people down here isn’t going to work,” Mastromichalis said. “And this past summer has been awful for us financially.”

To ease the financial strain, Nightlight will expand to be a vegetarian café starting in January, with the idea that people will come to get food before and after shows. To afford the necessary upgrades mandated by the Health Department, Nightlight is hosting a benefit.

The first benefit’s theme is sounds of the Grateful Dead. The band’s famous blend of blues, psychedelic rock and jazz will be represented by local bands In the Year of the Pig, Savage Knights, Secret Boyfriend and Systems along with Electric Cactus. It’s a diverse, fitting lineup for a space that prides itself on showing eclectic forms of art.

Mastromichalis says all of these bands have helped shape Nightlight’s sound and atmosphere over the years.

The venue also began instituting earlier hours at the beginning of September. From 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday,
Nightlight now features free Wi-Fi and coffee from Open Eye Café.

Mastromichalis said the idea was to introduce the public to the earlier hours before gradually turning people onto the café, noting that Nightlight customers have often asked for food in the past.

However, Mastromichalis stressed that Nightlight had no intention of turning into an early-hours coffee shop. Their focus will remain on the music.

“This is just revenue for the amazing acts that we bring across the country, and to continue as a show space,” Mastromichalis said.

Nightlight plans to do as many benefits as it takes to raises funds, continuing with a Halloween event on Oct. 30.

The event will feature members of Odessa Records and a reunion show from former members of Trekky Records.

“These benefits are a shout-out that, ‘Hey, this is a major community space, and we’re barely hanging on,’” Mastromichalis said.

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