Monday, December 11, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Ybor City clubs Czar, Ritz Ybor to merge

Pardon the dust, clubgoers.

Ybor City nightclub Czar is packing up and moving across Seventh Avenue into the Ritz Ybor building to become a hybrid beast, Czar at the Ritz.

Sandi Hein, who has been managing Czar at 1420 E Seventh Ave. for 10 years, said the move will happen in the summer — possibly the first weeks of August.

The Ritz Ybor, at 1503 E Seventh Ave., has already shut its doors and started a massive renovation to improve the venue's flow, increase the bar space and install a 40-by-40-foot LED light system, Hein said. The venue's next scheduled event is on July 27.

Czar, which is only open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, will still operate the same schedule. Hein said the venue will try to avoid booking concerts on Fridays, unless it's a huge act that makes sense in the context of Czar's massively popular Filthy Richard Fridays.

All tenants of Czar's old Los Novidades building, including Zoya Hookah Lounge and several companies with offices, found out in March that the ownership wanted to clear out the building.

"It was a bittersweet thing for me," Hein said. "I grew up in (the Los Novidades) building and just thinking about what the last night is going to be like, or what the last song will be, is heartbreaking."

Czar building owners, the Capitano family of Radiant Group, also own the Ritz Ybor. Calls to the Capitanos and Ritz Ybor officials this week were not returned.

Moving into the Ritz Ybor was a first choice for Czar management, Hein said. "It's really a perfect situation for both sides," she said. "The concerts are usually over by 11 to 11:30 p.m., and Czar doesn't really get going until about that late."

Hein urges Czar's comrades to fear not; she won't close Czar until she is ready to open Czar at the Ritz. "We won't lose one day," she said.

Permits filed with the city show that the outside stucco facade of the Czar building will be removed and sealed windows and doors will be reopened. Ybor City Chamber of Commerce president Tom Keating said the facelift comes courtesy of a historical preservation grant.

When Czar leaves, it's still unclear what will occupy the space. Hein speculates it will be converted to an office space. Keating's hoping for something with impact.

"I'm intrigued to see what they put there," he said. "The old Los Novidades building has a great history for our community."

Of Montreal will be the last live band to play the Imperial Stage at Czar on July 6.

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