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New half-million-dollar concert venue to rock out in Griffith Park Plaza shopping center
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New half-million-dollar concert venue to rock out in Griffith Park Plaza shopping center

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New half-million-dollar concert venue to rock out in Griffith Park Plaza shopping center

The band Dirt Born prepares for a charity show at a soft opening of Avenue 912, the new music venue in Griffith that opens to the general public on Saturday.

A new concert and wedding venue is going to rock in the long-struggling Griffith Park Plaza in north Griffith.

Avenue 912, named after the nearby Cline Avenue, will open Saturday with a show by rock band Bravo Johnny, which plays covers from the 1980s, 1990s and today. The show starts at 9 p.m. with doors opening at 7 p.m.

Business partners Patrick Murdock, Jack Havlin and Tony Hobson, a Griffith Town Council member and the owner of Set 'Em Up Lanes, invested more than $500,000 to turn the former Service Merchandise at 202 W. Ridge Road into a concert hall and venue that can be rented out for wedding receptions, business functions, fundraisers and other special events.

"We built it up into an entertainment venue from scratch," Hobson said.

The concert venue can accommodate audiences of about 500 people and includes a VIP seating section for a higher ticket price. It will host local rock and country acts on most Friday and Saturday nights, as well as touring national acts, comedy shows and dueling pianos from Howling at the Moon. It will be available for rental throughout the week.

Hobson said Avenue 912 will help fill the void left by the closure of the Star Plaza Theatre, long one of the Region's most popular venues for live entertainment before it closed in late 2017.

"It's a totally new experience for Northwest Indiana," he said. "It's one of the classiest places around. It has a different feel, a nightlife feel. Everything is brand new."

The venue includes a stage, sound system, large bathrooms, a private VIP area and two bars. It will serve a wide array of beer, wine and spirits, as well as a light food menu at some shows.

Upcoming concerts include the AC/DC Tribute band Bonfire on May 14 and Dick Diamond and the Dusters on May 15. Pink Floyd tribute band Echoes of Pompeii and Mr. Funnyman will play on May 22, while Howling at the Moon will visit from Chicago on June 10.

"We're planning more acts that will really put it on the map," Hobson said. "We're in talks with a national act for one date this summer. There's been a lot of interest from bands who have reached out. They've been dying to play."

Avenue 912 will employ about 10 to 15 people in part-time jobs. Hobson hopes it will spur a transformation in the long-neglected shopping center, which suffered from the recent loss of the Big Kmart.

"People are glad to see the north end come alive again," he said. "Hopefully when people start to see cars parking there again it will help fill in that plaza."

For more information, visit www.avenue912events.com, call (219) 306-6790 or find Avenue 912 on Facebook.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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