Toad’s to open new locations

Following three decades of successful “hoppin’” in the Elm City, Toad’s Place has announced plans to bring the nightclub to two new locations on the East Coast.

Now in its 32nd year of existence, the New Haven concert venue and nightclub, which has established itself as a prime evening destination for many students at Yale and other local colleges, will franchise the club in Richmond, Va., and Trenton, N.J., Toad’s Place owner Brian Phelps said. He said the expansion comes as a result of the business’ success and the support he has received from his team of workers and the developers of the two sites.

“Things have worked well for us over the years, and I got a couple of people who approached me,” Phelps said. “I have some people who want to move along with me, [and] the locations are great.”

Though Phelps said Toad’s Place Richmond will include a kitchen and a restaurant, any new Toad’s location will resemble the New Haven club. According to the Toad’s Place Richmond Web site, “The new clubs will be meticulously modeled after the existing Toad’s Place. Franchise owners will be expected to follow precisely an exhaustive manual with details allowing for an almost scientific recreation of the Toad’s ambiance.”

Phelps said he thinks the two new locations will also allow him to improve the caliber of artists he is able to attract to his venues.

“It will give us more levers with the bands and allow us to get bigger bands in New Haven,” he said. “You can go from one city to the next in one day.”

Steve Dickson, the CEO of Performa, the company responsible for development of the Trenton site, said he is happy to see Toad’s expanding to New Jersey. The nightclub will be located in an entertainment district of the city and within driving distance of several university campuses, including Princeton. Dickson said he expects Toad’s Trenton to offer a new audience to veteran and upcoming artists alike, but he said the club will largely seek to provide performing space for those who are unable to afford the cost of the nearby Sovereign Bank Arena.

“There is currently not a place in Trenton for people to see a band that may be on the cutting edge but cannot meet the cost [of the arena],” Dickson said. “As far as we are concerned, Toad’s Place is an anchor in our project.”

Toad’s Place Richmond will be located in the downtown area of the city in the historic Lady Byrd Hat building, said Linwood Norman, a spokesman for Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder. Norman said public and private investors have invested $2 billion in the redevelopment of the waterfront site into a retail, recreational and business area, and he said he is pleased with the addition of a Toad’s franchise to the district’s nightlife.

The Richmond nightclub is scheduled to open at the beginning of next year. The nightclub in Trenton is also expected to open sometime in 2007, although Phelps said the exact timing has not yet been determined.

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