By DON STINE
The legendary Upstage Club in downtown Asbury Park, where rock ‘n roll icons like Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny Lyon got their musical start as teenagers, is up for sale.
Current owner, antique dealer Richard Yorkowitz, called his decision to sell the building “heartbreaking.”
“There is no one specific person or town to blame- it’s overall personal circumstances that led to my decision,” he said.
Yorkowitz said it his decision to put the building up for sale was made “with much deliberation” and that he hopes whoever buys it will continue with his vision to reopen it as the Upstage Club because of its unique musical heritage.
“For me, this undertaking was inspired by the rich history that is so uniquely Asbury Park and by the enthusiasm of all of you who care so much about the future of this town. From the inception, this project has been fueled by your unwavering support. For this, I thank you.
“I am confident that despite the worst obstacles that the economy and weather can throw our way, Asbury’s unique spirit will shine on. It is your spirit of community that makes Asbury such a great place to be!” he said on the Upstage Club Facebook page.
The three-story building, at 700 Cookman Ave. is listed for $1.85 million, which includes the liquor license. Yorkowitz purchased the property in 2009.
A few years ago the City Council approved a zoning change for the building that would allow commercial uses on the upper two floors.
Founded by Tom and Margaret Potter in 1968 on the second and third floors above a Thom McAn shoe store, the club has been closed since 1971,
Jam sessions at the Upstage Club, a nonalcoholic establishment where many E Street Band members, like Vini Lopez, Danny Federici, Garry Tallent, and David Sancious, got their start, began at 9 p.m. and lasted until midnight. Then, due to a zoning law, the club was cleared out for one hour and the jam sessions then began again until the early morning hours.
The club, with its Green Mermaid Café on the second floor and a concert stage on the third floor, is considered such an important musical venue that it is now featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio.
Much of the stage and original day-glow paintings on the walls still remain and the club remains a time capsule for Asbury Park’s early rock ‘n roll glory days.
In 2011, Yorkowitz gave Springsteen a tour of the club 40 after he had last been there. Springsteen told Yorkowitz that Tom Potter would give him $20 a night to play. He also told Yorkowitz that he lived only two doors away from The Upstage while it was open and that he wrote many of the songs on his first album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” while living near the club.
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the listing price as $1.1 million. It is listed at $1,850,000 with the John C. Conover Agency, which reflects the cost of the building’s Class C liquor license.