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Countdown to the Sinclair opening

Posted by James Reed  December 12, 2012 03:20 PM

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Sinclair opening.jpg

Finally.

Excuse me: FINALLY.

There's no other way to put it, really. After more than a month of delays, which led to shows being moved, postponed, and occasionally canceled, the Sinclair is set to open tonight in Harvard Square. How eagerly anticipated has this day been? Enough so that earlier this week a Tumblr site, titled The Sinclair Is Not Open, went up with numerous posts poking fun at the late arrival of the music venue and restaurant. (My particular favorite: an image of a giant asteroid crashing into Earth with the message, "The Sinclair announces its opening date... December 21st, 2012!!!!") The original opening date was set for Oct. 30, but construction delays kept pushing it back.

Earlier this afternoon I took a private tour of the Sinclair, which will hold 525 people in the music venue and accommodate 104 diners in the restaurant helmed by Michael Schlow. To say it looked far from ready would be a polite understatement, but it was clear everything would be in its right place by the time Concrete Blonde headlines tonight. (Doors open at 7 p.m., by the way.)

Sinclair box office.jpg

At 1:45 p.m., here's what I saw. In the music hall, lights were flashing across the room, presumably as a test run. Technicians were putting black tape on the stage. The main entrance was unmarked, still awaiting a giant sign that would eventually be put in place above the front doors. The box office was closed, with computers covered in plastic. Workers were mopping the floors in the restaurant, while others changed light bulbs.

Cases of booze -- Narragansett, Pabst, whiskey -- were scattered across the floor in the bar area. (There are four bars in the venue, one in the restaurant.) The concrete floors were unfinished, apparently awaiting a stain that will come later (though I thought they looked great as is).

Sinclair stage 1.jpg

It's a handsome place, industrial chic with a subway motif but not too spiffy. As Stephen Martyak, who designed the space, put it: "It's a rock club, so it can't be too pristine," he said. The music side, especially, looks terrific. It has some of the best sight lines of any local venue, with three balconies of varying heights. Get here early to stake out a spot in the middle platform, which offers a prime spot to stare down the bands.

Sinclair stage 2.jpg

Nicole Kanner, who's been handling press relations for the Sinclair, said the restaurant won't be up and running at full speed at least until the end of the year. For now, the restaurant will be serving food on show nights.

Sinclair restaurant.jpg

By the end of the tour, about an hour later, the sign had been hoisted above the front entrance. The plastic was being lifted from the computers. Concrete Blonde's van had pulled up in front for load-in. All hands were still on deck inside.

Josh Bhatti, who has overseen the Sinclair's development in his role with the Bowery Presents: Boston, arrived with a FedEx envelope holding the various forms that say the Sinclair can finally open. He looked relieved. He was even in good spirits about that Tumblr blog that's been needling the Sinclair's growing pains.

"Not to downplay people's frustration," he said, "but our own frustration with this has been tenfold. It wasn't pleasant, but we're glad this is finally happening."

Sinclair sign in place.jpg

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