the average club goer, the Marmalade District probably isn't the
first area that comes to mind for an evening out. But there's a place
in the area that's been changing minds for just under a year
--- Club JAM set up shop on 3rd West in late 2008, revitalizing the area with a new club that caters to the DJ and dance audience, as well as opening itself up as a venue to give bands another place to play, and giving the gay community another place that isn't just the average dive. I got a chance to chat with co-owners Todd Crofts and Brian Morris about the place and how they got set up, thoughts on the local scene and and being in the Marmalade area.
Todd Crofts & Brian Morris
Gavin: Hey guys, first off, tell us a little about yourself.
Todd: Born and raised in Utah. I have a design background.
Brian: I'm Gay! Shocking right?
Gavin: What first got you interested in the club scene?
Brian: I have worked in the entertainment industry since I was 16. Two of my friends owned The Bay, and I worked for them for many years. I'm a socialite and love the nightlife.
Todd: I have always enjoyed throwing upscale parties and entertaining others. JAM is an upscale nightly party.
Gavin: Where did the idea come from to start up Jam?
Brian: My partner and I didn't feel like there was a club in Salt Lake City that was meeting our needs. We found it interesting that gay people have a stereotype of frequenting nice places but our clubs didn't really represent that. I also get migraines from cigarette smoke and at the time the no smoking ban had not been put into place. We joked about opening an upscale non-smoking club.
Gavin: How did you find the location for the place, and why did you choose the Marmalade area?
Todd: Because we are bringing the fruit back to the Marmalade, and believe the area will be the next Gayborhood. We also really like the way the city is developing this area.
Brian: I read an article that a Gayborhood was going to be built in the Marmalade District. Naturally that was where we wanted to be. One night after work I drove through the Marmalade District and found a closed bar. I was so excited I call Todd and said "I found the place!" We started talking to friends about the building and one friend said he had a friend looking at the same building and wanted to open a gay bar at the location as well. He set up a meeting and we combined forces to open JAM! the Marmalade District is the perfect place for JAM! We believe we have helped change the area. Businesses and housing are popping up every day. Marmalade is the place to be!
Gavin: What was it like for you getting set up, and were there any difficulties along the way?
Brian: It was a huge undertaking. We decided to demo the building right down to the four walls. All new plumbing, electrical, flooring and on and on. It took over a year and a lot of hard work. We had a couple of issues as to where our front door would be and we are still in the process of dealing with a zoning issue in order to obtain our liquor license. We have been open for nine months and still selling beer!
Todd: Well, the difficulties haven't ended. It was over a year of complete remodel of an existing building.
Gavin: How was it for you during that first month of being open?
Brian: It was awesome! We were the only non smoking gay club in town at the time and we were the new hot spot! Our customers love JAM as much as we do.
Gavin: You tend to bring in DJs as opposed to having just standard house group. Was that something you planned on or grew into doing?
Brian: We always planned to bring in the best dance DJ's we could find! We also have guest DJ's spin! We are very proud of the weekly DJ's that spin at JAM! DJ:K and Mike Babbitt are two of the best DJ's in this city. Both are highly educated in music and it is obvious in their mixes. Mike Babbitt owns a record company and is able to bring exclusive music to JAM! DJ TiDY is the newest hottest DJ on the Gay Dance scene! His mixes are researched he wears outlandish costumes and performs! People literally watch this guy all night!
Gavin: What brought on the idea to have an acoustic jam night at the club?
Brian: We love live music and Salt Lake has a ton of talent. A producer at 2News mentioned that he had a friend coming into town that was going to perform on their noon show and the artist was looking for a club to play while he was here - LIVE@JAM was born that day!
Gavin: Down the road will you make effort to bring in more local bands and acts, or stick to the club feel?
Brian: JAM was designed to hold a variety of events - Mostly dance party on the weekend - but during the week we have live music on the patio and the main room as well as art shows! We are always looking for local talent and will continue to keep the live music flowing!
Gavin: What other plans do you have down the road for Jam?
Brian: Everything at JAM is always “Top Secret” so I don't know how much I can say. I will say that JAM will always change and evolve. From week to week you will notice something different at JAM! Gay people make a huge contribution to the world and make it a better place - we want to entertain and give back to those that have made life better for us!
Todd: No doubt JAM will get bigger and better! Of course we have plans for further expansion.
Gavin: Going a little city-wide, what are your thoughts on the local club scene, both good and bad?
Todd: Salt Lake has an awesome club scene! Utah has a huge pool of creative people. Most cities our size don't have half of what we do! It will only get better!
Brian: Salt Lake has an awesome club scene! Utah has a huge pool of creative people. Most cities our size don't have half of what we do!
Gavin: It seems in recent years the DJ and big club sound is making a comeback. Do you think it will stick around longer, or be a fading trend like before?
Brian: People realize now that the DJ makes the club - it's big now and only going to get bigger!
Gavin: How have the liquor law changes affected you both as a business and a patron?
Brian: It has not affected us yet... we have a beer license. We are dealing with some zoning issues with the city in order to get a liquor license. As a patron I hit different bars more than I did because I don't need a membership!
Gavin: Being local business owners, what's it like for you in this current economy?
Brian: I notice that people are having pre-parties at home more that they used to. that way they don't have to buy as many drinks at the club. this hurts the clubs because they can't make the money they need to stay in business. I worry that some clubs will go out of business because of this. That will really limit the choices of clubs we have to go to.
Todd: We realize that the economy is tough and if people can only purchase one drink that is fine we love having people here with us.
Gavin: What can we expect from you and the club the rest of the year?
Todd: A lot of amazing and innovative events and parties.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?
Brian: Jam is more than a bar - we host art shows - live performances and community fundraisers! Jam is a place to relax an meet people!