Q&A: Southpaw Co-Owner Matt Roff Talks About The Venue's Closing
Yesterday the news that the Park Slope club Southpaw would be turning into an educational center for children broke, and we got comment from co-owner Matt Roffwhose business interests also include Williamsburg's Public Assembly, Greenpoint's No Name Bar, and Crown Heights' Franklin Parklast night. Roff clarified that he and his business partner Mike Palms aren't selling the space; instead, they're subletting it to the company that will run the tutoring center. SOTC asked him a couple of questions on the past, present, and future of his venue and nightlife around New York. Our email chat with him is below.
Maura Johnston Southpaw's wall of baseball cards, 2005. There are a couple of southpaws in there.
How long have you and your partner owned Southpaw? How long have you been in the nightlife business?
We have been in the owner/operator part of the biz for 10 years. Mike was DJing and I was bartending before all that, though.
When did you start thinking of selling?
Everybody thinks of selling anything they own the day they own it! However, this is not a sale. So i'm not sure who tweeted or spread that rumor. If this were a sale, then someone would be owning a music venue. That is not the the case here. The discussion started a few months ago when we were approached by potential businesses.
Do you think any of the regular parties hosted at Southpaw will move over to Public Assembly?
I think there is potential for some of them to move but I will not guarantee that. Some of the parties and shows just work better on 5th Avenue. It may not make sense for some things to move.
What do you think of the recent spate of venues closing (Bruar Falls, Monster Island, and now Southpaw)? A normal "circle of life" in a bustling city, or something more sinister?
I personally don't think much about em at all. I wasn't aware of some of those closings. My partner Mike may have a different outlook on it.
[New York] is a fun city to own and run a business like Southpaw, but it's also a tough one. Competition, expenses and a broke city and rich mayor that claims it wants to help all small businesses is a blatant lie.
If another business gets another ticket or fine for something as ridiculous as a bartender with too much lipstick (joke) it's gonna be the end of a lot of small biz.
Are you looking to open any new venues soon? Any that focus on live music?
We are always looking for something that interests us or makes us get that excited feeling where we can create an outlet for entertainment or nightlife. I'm not saying a new place is around the corner, but I will say don't be surprised when you hear from us again.
What neighborhood do you think is up-and-coming as far as nightlife goes? I noticed you own a couple of spaces in Crown Heights...
I don't want to tell anyone where the hot spots are because by the time we get in there and create a banger, it won't be hot anymore!
Any particular memories of Southpaw that stick out for you (good or, if you want to be frank, bad)?
I think the day Bob Dylan walked in and the day 50 Cent walked in were pretty memorable. We also had a crazy time during the blackout. I'm sure most places had a story about that night around the city, but ours was the best.