After operating for 14 months in downtown Asheville, the Apothecary is closing its doors Nov. 1. Located at the corner of Eagle and Market streets in the historic YMI Cultural Center building, the beloved multi-use venue has been home to a wide array of progressive concerts, performances, art exhibits, yoga classes and other community events.
"I think we were able to create a community there," says Nick Scavo, who founded the Apothecary last year with Frank Meadows. "A lot of incredible stuff went down with really minimal means – that's inspiring."
Scavo says that the venue's landlords at the YMI informed them Oct. 17 that they would not renew their lease at the end of the month. Scavo reports that the space may be taken over by a local coffee house. (At this writing, no one at the YMI or the coffee house had returned calls for comment.)
Scavo says it was their own choice to switch to a month-to-month lease this summer, as they looked for another space to move the venue to. He reports that they came close to relocating into the Pink Dog Creative building in the River Arts District, but the deal fell through.
The YMI, Scavo notes, "is not kicking us out in any way." However, he adds: "It's unfortunate how little notice we got. We ended up canceling a bunch of programming for November and December." He also admits, "We were having some 'land-lordy' problems in terms of noise, and being able to pay rent."
Scavo says his concerns about gentrification near the venue's current location in The Block, which has historically been an African-American center, were key to him and his business partner's effort this summer to find a new space. A group of partners, including the city of Asheville, are currently constructing an affordable housing and mixed use development nearby.
With its space gone, the future of Apothecary is in doubt. Scavo and Meadows are both full-time students at UNC Asheville, and they're going to "take a few months off and try to get our heads together," says Scavo.
"There's no definitive plan, because it was such short notice," he adds. "Plus, real estate's tough in Asheville."
Meanwhile, Scavo says that the venue will continue to operate through Halloween (check its Facebook page for the latest schedule). And Scavo says that, in one form or another, he'd like to find a way to continue to facilitate progressive arts and music in Asheville long into the future.
"I feel like we're addicted to it. We had so many incredible musicians play in that tiny room," he says. "If I could do this forever, I would love it, and actually figure out a way to make money doing it."