by Dan Bolles
As he states in a lengthy, and at times emotional, farewell letter posted last night on his blog, Damon; Whirled!, neo-Nectar's architect Damon Brink has left the building.
Rumors of his impending departure had been swirling for weeks. Actually, speculation concerning the future of The House That Phish Built had been rampant pretty much since Brink and Co. purchased the downtown landmark six-and-a-half years ago. In that time, the club has undergone a near total — and frequently controversial — face lift from divey juke joint to upscale(ish) nightclub.
Gone is the narrow stage along the northern wall. Ditto the cafeteria-style kitchen by the front window and with it the homey diner feel of the restaurant. The original circular bar was moved from the center of the room to allow space for the new circular stage in the opposite corner. They put in real bathrooms. The list goes on and on — and that's to say nothing of the work done upstairs.
Like many locals, I've viewed most of the renovations with a fair degree of skepticism. Largely out of nostalgia, I originally mourned the loss of the old stage setup and the bar's bluesy roadhouse atmosphere — to borrow a line from "The Simpsons," "Aw, Moe. Not the dank!" But after playing on the new stage and spending some time in the crowd, there's no question that it is now a vastly superior room for live music. Although I have to admit, I'm still not sold on the stainless steel sterility of restaurant side. Perhaps in time.
Regardless of how you feel about the changes, one thing is certain: Damon Brink left his mark. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the new management leaves theirs. And though we haven't always seen eye to eye, I wish Damon nothing but the best in this next stage of his life.