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SAD NEWS - Chicky's Fine Diner closes

Chicky's Fine Diner, the outpost of local-music and diner culture in a historic space in Westbrook, closed Saturday for good.

The diner, which celebrated its third anniversary at the end of last month, closed for financial problems, according to co-owner Blake Smithson, who said the club faced the costs of renewing all of its various food, beverage, and entertainment licenses, as well as some overdue tax payments, and "the specter of June, July, and August" - the lowest-revenue three-month period of the year.

He and fellow co-owner Chicky Stoltz first talked about shutting down on Thursday, made the decision and told the staff on Friday, and kept things going on Saturday in the building, formerly owned by members of the family of '50s rock star Rudy Vallee.

Smithson said he'll be letting the bands playing regular gigs there know by e-mail later today. (The casualties also include a May 27 gig that was planned to be part of the Phoenix's Best Music Poll Festival, featuring roots-rock bands King Memphis and the Bourbonaires - a band counting among its members Smithson, Stoltz, and booking agent Nick Bloom.)

Smithson was tired and sad when reached Monday by phone, but was trying to remain positive, saying "I have really really enjoyed being so involved in the music scene in Portland."

He wants to become more involved, actually, and is keeping his eye out for club or restaurant owners who want to collaborate on Chicky's-like projects in the future, and playing more often with the Bourbonaires.

Stoltz couldn't be reached immediately for comment; look for updates here later in the day.

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