The iconic Upstage Club in downtown Asbury Park, where rock ‘n roll icons like Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny Lyon got their musical start as teenagers, has been sold.
“It’s a done deal,” said Richard Yorkowitz, who bought the three-story building in 2009 for $1 million with plans to restore the building to pay homage to Asbury Park’s rock & roll musical heritage.
“I am a little disappointed but, once you decide not to do it, then you have to move away from it,” he said.
Yorkowitz, a Garwood-based antique dealer, said that he has other properties that were affected by Superstorm Sandy that then hampered his plans to restore the building.
“It was really a number of issues that piled up, both public and personal,” he said.
The building, at the southwest corner of Cookman Avenue and Bond Street, was recently sold for $650,000 to brothers Jim and Bill Ross, based in Brooklyn.
The liquor license that comes with the building is also under a contract to purchase but Yorkowitz would not say for how much or to whom.
He did say, however, that that the license will probably not be placed in the same building.
The Ross brothers plan to build four apartments on the top two floors of the building and have a commercial use on the ground floor.
“It’s not what I personally desired but have no say over what the new owners want to do,” Yorkowitz said.
Local realtor Patrick Schiavino, who brokered the sale, said the Ross brothers have been investing in Asbury Park for about 10 to 12 years and plan to remove the building’s current façade and to restore it to its original look.
“It is brick with large windows on the three exposed sides. The plan is to restore it to its original early 20th century grandeur and try to replicate the architecture as closely as possible,” he said.
Schiavano said the Ross brothers “are ready to roll” and are currently seeking the necessary approvals and permits from the city.
Founded by Tom and Margaret Potter in 1968 on the second and third floors above a Thom McAn shoe store, the Upstage Club only operated a few legendary years. It closed in 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 & 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 has remained a time capsule for Asbury Park’s early rock ‘n roll glory days.
In 2011, Yorkowitz gave Springsteen a tour of the club 40 years 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.