Funhouse bids farewell to fans this Halloween

If the greenroom walls at the Funhouse could talk, they would recall nine years of punk rock music and mayhem.

They might mention dozens of bands who got their start on the bar's chipped black stage, or the legends of punk rock's past who shared their show business memories while sitting on a couch that's seen better days.

While it seems almost appropriate that the spooky little bar with the looming clown's head above its entrance will officially close its doors on Halloween; for many, it's bittersweet.

The building was built in the late-30s and enjoyed a long run as Tex's Tavern. Since opening in 2003, the Funhouse - known for near nightly shows, patio basketball games, and its mascot, Spike the Clown - has catered to punk rockers, guys in suits, Seafair pirates, and everyone in between.

"I've always loved this building," said co-owner/booking agent Brian Foss.

Last March, the Funhouse's fate looked grim when the city announced plans for a seven-story mixed-use development on the site. Upon hearing the plan, bar supporters took action - attending planning meetings in droves and creating a Facebook page to save the site. Much to their chagrin, the proposal to redevelop the site moved forward, forcing the bar to close its doors on Oct. 31 - nine years to the day since opening.

"It's just really awful to struggle through the worst economy in years, come out of it, and then have something happen that is totally out of your control," Foss said.

"We're disappointed for sure, but I'm not surprised," co-owner Bobby Kuckleburg said.

On the outside, the Funhouse may seem menacing. But over the years, Foss and Kuckleburg worked hard to make it a second family for their employees and returning patrons. The bar has hosted weddings and birthdays. It was the last place Foss remembers his mother healthy and happy before cancer ravaged her body and took her life.

The bar also built a reputation as a place to hear well-known musicians, or discover a new favorite band. Kuckleburg said the mission has always been to treat musicians like gold, no matter who they were.

"What sets the Funhouse apart is that it's the best place to see and play a show," he said. "Band know they can walk up and be treated like human beings."

It's a core value about the Funhouse that won't change, even if its exterior does.

Foss and Kuckleburg haven't found a new home for the Funhouse, but they remain hopeful. As the last few weeks of their bar wane, Foss and Kuckleburg are gearing up to throw one last bash. The Halloween/closing night party will feature bands formed by past and present Funhouse employees.

"It seems fitting for us," Kuckleburg said. "There's going to be so much love and sadness here when we close up."

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