Cafe Colonial is not dead

The plan is to open a family-friendly live music venue under the old name

Local musicians and music fans who are bummed about the Café Colonial closure can rejoice: It’s not going anywhere.

Gabriell and Ben Garcia, the husband-and-wife duo who have owned the Blue Lamp on Alhambra Boulevard in Sacramento since 2014, recently took over the lease for the once-doomed DIY venue on Stockton Boulevard. They announced the move via Facebook on December 12, posing for a photo in front of the café with a plastered Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Gabriell Garcia told SN&R. “Everyone’s excited to not lose another space in Sacramento that didn’t get bought up by corporate.”

Over the last two years, several other venues have stopped booking live music or closed, including the Starlite Lounge on 21st Street, which reopened as Holy Diver under new ownership last year.

Garcia said the new Café Colonial will sport similar features to Blue Lamp: a full kitchen, beer and wine, an eclectic music calendar, trivia, comedy, open-mic nights, brunches and happy hours. She says she and her husband plan to make it a more family-friendly neighborhood dive.

The café and the Colony, both located in the same complex as the Colonial Theater on Stockton Boulevard, shuttered in November. Garcia said the couple is only renting out the café space.

Matthew Marrujo previously ran both venues. In a Facebook post from September, he wrote that the closures were due to lack of funds.

Last year, Marrujo was fined by the California labor commissioner for reasons related to his use of volunteer staff in the venue. He could not be reached for comment.

Both spaces were adored by a sect of Sacramento’s music community, who relied on them as an open house for underage, up-and-coming bands, and where punk rock marathons such as Sac Ladyfest were held.

“Without the café, there’s no Blue Lamp,” Garcia said. “Without younger people wanting to see live music and create bands, [the music scene] will die out.” She said the new venue will be “age-appropriate,” depending on the event.

Garcia says they were originally hoping to open the new café by January 1. New reconstruction projects, as well as electrical and plumbing repairs to meet safety codes, mean they’re now shooting for a soft-opening during the winter, possibly early spring, starting with the main café space. Eventually, they’ll open the music room. Garcia says a handful of local promoters have already signed on to book shows, including First Unit Entertainment, Punch and Pie Productions and Atlantean Collective’s Chris Lemos, who books Blue Lamp.

Meanwhile, the pair are seeking volunteer help as they tear down and reconstruct the old café, floor to ceiling.

“The more the community helps build this, the more they will love it and respect it,” Garcia says.