For Cambridge’s 11-year-old All Asia Café, the afterlife will feel a bit like VALHALLA.
Back in December, MIT unveiled a five-story University Park expansion project that would swallow up All Asia Café and other businesses in the building strip and replace it with a $100 million research center. After that news broke, All Asia owner MARC SHULMAN vowed to re-open the restaurant and live music venue he owns and operates with his wife Patty Chen somewhere within Central Square. Roughly eight months later, Shulman has his new venue.
All Asia is currently in negotiations with the city of Cambridge to slide up to 675 Mass. Ave. and re-open as Valhalla in the former CCTV space that fronts Prospect Street. “We’re in the process of shopping demolition contractors, so I feel we’re about four to six months from opening,” Shulman said by phone this afternoon. “We have a lot of work to do, a lot of hurdles. We have to gut the entire building. We have plans for the interior but we have to open it up and see what we’re dealing with.”
The live music portion of Valhalla will cater to local and touring bands, but with a more than 5,000-square-foot space that is double the size of All Asia. The room will have a capacity between 180 and 200 patrons, with an added patio area that could hold between 60 and 100.
Shulman said he looked at five or six locations not far from his current spot, including Rodney’s Book Store at 698 Mass Ave. and vacant lots near the old Blockbuster Video space, but cost was prohibitive. “This was available, and it’s a great location,” he added. “There’s foot traffic, the space is double the size. We’ll be open during the day for lunch, and the venue portion will be at nights, on weekends.”
Shulman said that while the MIT project will happen eventually, the bad economy has slowed down its construction timeline. He doesn’t have a final closing date for All Asia just yet. “All Asia will hopefully go on until the days right before Valhalla opens,” he said. “[MIT’s] not going to break ground in the winter, and they have to give us notice, so we figure we have until the spring.”
The city council that oversees nightclub permitting is on summer break and will be back in session Sept. 12.
With the move from All Asia to Valhalla, Shulman is still within the vicinity -- albeit on the other side -- of the Middle East and T. T. The Bear’s, two live music venues he’ll be once again competing with. But he figures all can prosper in the creative hotbed of Central Square. “Not looking to take away their metal shows, or the all-ages ravers, or the hip-hop shows, but we can offer a good stage and good sound,” Shulman said. “We can offer top of the line food and drink. The bands drive people to the door, then it’s up to us to give people a reason to come back.”