Clyde's music venue to replace Tomato Palace in downtown Columbia

Downtown Columbia will welcome a new live music venue later this year as Clyde's Restaurant Group and Columbia developer Howard Hughes Corp. announced plans Wednesday to close and convert The Tomato Palace into a performance venue for musicians.

Tom Meyer, president of Clyde's Restaurant Group, said The Tomato Palace officially closed at the end of the day Tuesday. After nearly 25 years, the Italian restaurant, adjacent to Clyde's of Columbia, was "under-performing and ran its course," Meyer said.

The venue will cost about $1.5 million, Meyer said.

"We were looking for a way to repurpose that space," he said. "We thought it was a good idea to bring some life onto the waterfront and Columbia, in general. We know Columbia has been a supporter of the arts of all types for years.

The venue, which has not yet been named, is expected to open by the end of this year. The Columbia lakefront location will be the restaurant group's second "music and dining" concept, following the 2011 opening of The Hamilton at 14th and F streets in Washington, D.C.

Musicians will perform inside the venue's 4,600-square-foot space, also available for private events and meetings. Meyer said the stage will be equipped with light, sound and video capabilities. Visitors can purchase drinks at the bar, which will share a kitchen with Clyde's.

Meyer said the ticketed performances will feature "everything from jazz and blue grass to Indie and folk music." The restaurant group is also discussing a "late-night-show" idea, with performances held at the venue after Merriweather concerts.

"One of the most fun things I did was open The Hamilton," Meyer said. "In this day and age, people are looking for experiential dining, to go out and have a good time and memories. When I have sell-out shows and I see a room full of people enjoying music and the performers having a comfortable room, it's very rewarding."

The venue joins Howard Hughes Corp.'s ongoing redevelopment efforts in downtown Columbia. Within the 14 million square feet of mixed-use development, there will be 4.3 million square feet of commercial office space; 1.25 million square feet of street retail; as well as 6,244 residential units and 640 hotel rooms. Currently 10 percent of the redevelopment plan is underway or complete.

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