C. Grace, a jazz club and cocktail lounge beloved by hundreds of Raleigh residents, played its last goodbye on Saturday. After a decade of music and manhattans, the bar has closed its doors for good.
C. Grace, an underground, speakeasy-style lounge, was a hidden gem on Glenwood Avenue, mostly known for its dance clubs and drinks. The bar was founded in 2011 by Catrina Godwin and children, Catherine and Grier, as well as Matthew Bettinger, who collectively visualized a classy, high-end cocktail bar with occasional live music.
Instead, C. Grace became the premiere jazz club of the Triangle, hosting live music almost every night. The club was a regular home to both amateur artists and jazz musicians known across the state, including saxophonist Gregg Gelb and trumpeter Al Strong.
After closing for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, C. Grace reopened last June, under Catrina’s leadership, while Catherine bowed out of day-to-day management after she had her first child earlier this year.
“To all the many guests and musicians who graced our room, became friends, and supported us—thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Catrina Godwin wrote on social media Monday. “You made the journey worth it and filled my evenings with delight, fun stories and fond memories. Our doors may close, but I, and my family, will always treasure the last decade at C. Grace and Empress. Thank you … Catrina.”
Goodwin’s Facebook post garnered more than 250 comments in less than 24 hours from regular guests and musicians who were heartbroken by the news. C. Grace’s high-end cocktails, made by talented bartenders dressed in formal suits and gowns, were a draw for many. But its atmosphere was also unforgettable. The cozy, lush lounge often featured ear-splitting trumpets and daring piano improvisations.
C. Grace was where many people met their significant others (including cofounder Catherine Godwin, who eventually married her business partner Matthew Bettinger).
“My fiance and I had our (first) kiss there,” wrote one patron, Johnny Mack. “I cherish that memory with Paul Rogers on the horn and Peter Lamb and Jessica Lamb stopping by to subconsciously convince her to kiss me. I dream that we will relive that moment in your future, underground shows that you can hopefully help make happen. Thank you for such a rich canvas of beautiful memories.”
Another regular, jazz pianist and composer Michael Pelz-Sherman, wrote that C. Grace was “like a gift from God. “
“I recorded and released an album here, played many unforgettable nights with so many great musicians and friends,” Pelz-Sherman wrote. “So many memories – the fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina, and the memorial for Court Stewart…Wishing you all the best in your next chapter, Catrina.”
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.