When Temperance League plays Sadlack’s Heroes on Friday, the storied Raleigh venue will have less than three months left to live.
Opened in 1973, the beloved establishment sits across from N.C. State University’s Belltower on Hillsborough Street, dishing legendary sandwiches and offering a cozy back patio that helped launch some of the Triangle’s notable musical exports. But the restaurant will close on Dec. 31, replacedalong with its neighbor, Schoolkids Recordsby a 125-room hotel with retail space beneath. But Sadlack’s will soon return with a new name and location: Sadlack’s will become the Berkeley Cafe, nearly two miles from campus in downtown Raleigh.
Opened in 1980, the Berkeley Cafe is another long-standing hotspot with a loyal lunch crowd and a rich history of local music. The dive served as a hub of the city’s alt-country heyday two decades ago and has since catered to a wide variety of genres. Hit hard by the recent economic downturn, owner John Blomquist was forced to close the Berkeley’s large showroom this summer, hosting shows in the back corner of his narrow bar. He closed the Berkeley for good last week, but Sadlack’s owner Rose Schwetz will reopen it under the same name in January.
“The good thing is the name’s not going to change,” says Blomquist. He’ll stay on for a few months to facilitate the transition. “If I ride down the road, and I look over at Berkeley, and it’s still here, I can say, ‘I started that joint. I started that five-star dive.’ It needs a good scrubbing.”
Indeed, Schwetz will spend the next three months renovating the Berkeleyredoing the ceilings and floors, reconfiguring the kitchen, rewiring the electrical system.
The resurrected watering hole will do its best to please regulars of both businesses: The menu will feature popular selections from each restaurant, and live music booked by Sadlack’s staple Greg Rice will return to the space. His slate of folk- and rock-leaning up-and-comers should suit the Berkeley’s tight confines. Schwetz expects the capacity to be about 100, though she plans to install less than 80 seats. Moving forward, she’d like to spruce up the Berkeley’s meager patio, hoping to host concerts outside just as Sadlack’s has done.
“We have to have music,” Schwetz adds. “Sometimes the music is terrible, but what is terrible to me is not always terrible to somebody else. I like having young bands come in. Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve ever played any place. You see them grow, and then they move on and they get popular and then they won’t play here anymore.”