NORTH ADAMS — Live music and comedy venue HiLo on Union Street first opened in summer 2019, and by February, co-owner Glenn Maloney recalls, the venue was having its best month yet.
“If February looks like this,” he remembers thinking, “this thing is going to work. It felt really good.”
And then, of course, came COVID-19.
“In two weeks, we went from elation of what could be to, ‘We have to close,’” Maloney said.
The business eventually reopened, but Saturday it had its last show — at least for now — and the business’ future is unclear.
“It is with much sadness that we are announcing that HiLo will be taking a hiatus,” the venue recently announced on Facebook. “The challenges of a pandemic have made it very difficult for venues and artists alike. HiLo has not been immune to those challenges.”
Business is too slow, Maloney said Friday.
“There’s not enough attendance in a pandemic world, is what it really comes down to,” he said. “It’s going to be a difficult winter for restaurants and music venues.”
Its building at 55 Union St., formerly home to Crystal Hardhat Saloon and the Museum of Dog, is for sale. It is owned by Very Good Properties — made up of Maloney, Orion Howard, and Brian Miksic, also a co-owner of HiLo — but Maloney said the property business partnership is dissolving.
“The dissolution of the building ownership and the sale of the building adds a layer of complication into it, too,” Maloney said of the hiatus. “While it’s not the reason, it doesn’t help.”
There is an interested building buyer, but Maloney said it is not clear what that buyer would use the property for.
“There are avenues where HiLo could reopen, reemerge, but it’s honestly very unknown,” he said.
Many have apologized to Maloney when they heard the news, but he is not sad, he said.
“We all walk away with our heads held high. ... Nothing is a guaranteed to work. It was probably going to be a struggle without a pandemic.”
He added: “I don’t feel any sorrow. ... I am proud of what Brian and I and our entire team did.”
The business set out to fill a hole in the city.
“I always wondered how it is that a two-college town doesn’t have a live music venue,” Miksic told The Eagle in 2019, referring to the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Williams College in neighboring Williamstown. “It just doesn’t make sense to me, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
The space also is home to The Parlor Cafe, a coffee shop and restaurant, which plans to move into a new space downtown on Eagle Street early in the new year.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Julia Daly, the cafe’s co-owner. “We’re mostly going to be doing what we’re doing now.”
She plans to apply for a beer and wine license or a liquor license, and to host events in the space, like open-mic events.
“I think the vibe will be a little different. I’ll be taking all the plants with me, which is a big part of it,” Daly said, while sitting at a cafe table with a plant on it.
Before moving into the HiLo space last year, she and the business’ co-owner, Nick Tardive ran the cafe on Ashland Street until their landlord decided not to renew their lease.
Her business grew in the Union Street storefront, she said. “I really hope that comes with me.”
This story has been updated to correct the name of the company that owns 55 Union St.