Amanda Austin, the owner of the Dallas Comedy House, issued a rallying cry on Friday. The comedy club and improv theater is in trouble.
It’s been well-covered elsewhere, but here’s the gist. In January, the company behind Terry Black’s Barbecue in Austin bought the theater’s Deep Ellum home. The new landlord promptly began trying to evict Dallas Comedy House from its Main Street digs, presumably to install a restaurant in its place. Black Market Investments, in its efforts to oust Austin and her club, cited vague lease violations and code compliance issues, although Dallas Fire-Rescue told the Morning News that any code hazards have been resolved. Austin took the behind-the-scenes legal back-and-forth public over the weekend as the club’s future became more endangered.
So Dallas comedy fans and Deep Ellum rallied, incensed at a meat purveyor trying to “bully” its way into a neighborhood and comedy scene that take their sense of community very seriously.
However, in a Facebook post defending itself, Terry Black’s Barbecue says it isn’t budging. “Many issues at hand are 100% non negotiable no matter how lenient we would like to be,” says the post, which decries the supposedly “false allegations” that have been made against it. The post continues: “Much of what has been written is misleading or completely false, and we think any rational person would agree, when there are business disputes things like this happen when one side tries to win public opinion.”
Austin certainly made her initial plea in an effort to win public opinion. This is not a bad thing, especially when the public opinion in Deep Ellum seems unanimous.
The Dallas Comedy House is a beloved institution, teaching improv and comedy classes and hosting all manner of events that contribute to the vibrant feel of a neighborhood trying to keep its cool as it weathers the pitfalls and culture-sucking hazards of redevelopment and growth. Black Market Investments, family-run though it may be, is an out-of-town company that saw a quick buck to be made by forcing another barbecue joint into a booming neighborhood that doesn’t really need more barbecue.
This one is worth trying in the court of public opinion.