KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local music venue that was a Kansas City staple for more than a decade shut its doors over the weekend. The owners of The Riot Room say after the COVID pandemic hit, it was a challenge to get back on track.
“It’s a bummer, we’ve been here for a long time,” co-owner Dallas Gutschenritter told FOX4.
Over 13 years, the Riot Room welcomed music acts like Rakim, Slick Rick, Rif-Raff, and countless others, a stark contrast to it front door being boarded up now.
Gutschenritter co-owned the space with his brother, Tim. He says venues went from being shut down in 2020, to opening in 2021, but it was never completely “back to normal” for the music venue.
“It became very difficult to get back into a proper schedule of shows, and there were a lot of ups and downs because of that,” he said.
But they persevered. The duo started a GoFundMe and applied for a small business grant, but they are still waiting on word if they will receive any funds. While they waited, revenue swung up and down.
The owner of the building then told the brothers they were going in a different direction and another business would acquire the space. Gutschenritter said although The Riot Room will no longer be in Westport, its legacy will remain a part of Kansas City culture.
“It was very touching to see and hear about the memories people had in this room,” he said.
Less than a mile away, Westport Saloon owner Travis Fields said his doors are open now, but the live music industry in Westport has struggled for years, and the pandemic sealed the deal. Fields called the new reality “depressing.”
“COVID came along and just kind of kicked us when we were down,” Fields said. “With fewer people interested in live music in the neighborhood, that has affected our bottom line.”
Both owners said it’s important to remember to visit your local businesses.
“They are the bedrock of our community. It’s very important. Sometimes we don’t realize that until those places are gone.” Gutschenritter said.
The Riot Room still has shows scheduled, and the venue doesn’t plan on canceling them. They hope to move the shows to another neighboring venue or possibly their own new location if they can secure one.