The view from the Balcony Club was so good that three friends bought the legendary Lakewood spot near the Lakewood Theater and Mi Cocina.
New owners Scott Metcalfe, Patrick Glennon and Toni Scott say the seller was looking for people to maintain the club’s spirit and that the purchase process felt just like an audition.
“The landlord had other offers for more money,” Metcalfe says. “The previous owner loves the club, too, so they wanted to know us. Somebody wanted to make it a karaoke bar. The landlord said if we messed with the Balcony Club, people would come after us in a mob with torches.”
Metcalfe’s motto? “Don’t ‘F’ it up.”
The new owners say they plan to keep the same staff, bartenders, format, sound people and bands.
The club not only features international musicians but also students from Booker T. Washington High School, Woodrow Wilson High School, the University of North Texas and the University of Texas in Arlington.
“It’s a local icon,” Metcalfe says. “It’s history. There are other clubs that have good jazz one or two nights a week, and they rotate acts, but this club features live music every night, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.”
Metcalfe, a retired photographer who buys and sells properties, says any changes will be “tweaks.” Plans include reworking the website, improving the happy hour and upgrading plumbing, including the ladies’ room. Balcony Club ownership is a part-time gig for them: Scott has a career in public relations, and Glennon works in IT.
“Pooling our talents is beneficial. We’re all invested financially, as well as emotionally,” Metcalfe says.
Metcalfe says he was celebrating with friends a few months ago when he heard the club was for sale.
“Scott called me,” Glennon says, “and asked, ‘Patrick, what do you like to do?’ And then he said, ‘I think you like alcohol and jazz.’ And I said, ‘I do like both of those things.’ And it blossomed from there.”
Glennon’s wife, Toni Scott, remembers him saying, “‘Scott wants to buy a bar with us.’ And I said, ‘We don’t have the money — and no.’”
The couple decided to turn down Metcalfe’s offer, but then they received a text from him that said: “It’s the Balcony Club.”
“We’re in,” they said.
The Balcony Club is more than 30 years old. Longtime owner Tommy Stanco bought the club in 1991 with Michael Solberg from founders Burke and Jo Barr. Ted Davey bought the bar in 2013 with wife, Lorena. Davey died in December 2017 at the age of 54. Days before his death, Davey signed a 10-year lease for the space, which was run by his wife, Lorena.
Norman Alston, chair of the Historic Resources Committee for the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the architect responsible for historic preservation of the adjacent Lakewood Theater, says he was surprised to find the Balcony Club had anchored the neighborhood music scene for so long.
“Every time I would mention it, people said, ‘Where have you been?’ and immediately dive into lists of favorite musicians, memorable personal events or people they would see there regularly,” he says. “It seems always to have fulfilled the eclectic musical tastes of the surrounding community.”
Metcalfe added: “Everyone is there because they love the community and the space. And that’s why we’re there too.”
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Neighbors share favorite moments from the Balcony Club
“I can remember working there during the holidays. After Christmas night, we all stayed together playing the piano and singing Christmas tunes together. It was the best.”
— Deborah Steele
— Erin Barnes Johnston
“The Enablers’ smooth jazz filled the club back in the day.”
— Chris Dirkx
“I remember we’d eat at Matt’s on La Vista, then my parents would go up there for an after-dinner drink and some music. My brother and I would get a Coke and sneak over to the balcony of the movie theater and watch 30 minutes of whatever was playing.”
— Kyle Rotenberry
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.