By Kia O. Moore
The tan building at 1701 West Trade Street became a hub for a west side small business celebration on Sunday, February 9th before the pandemic hit. The Historic West End Legacy Small Business Appreciation Dinner was held at Venue @ 1801 by the Historic West End Partners recognizing decades of service rendered to the corridor. The night was complete with live music by saxophonist Shableek, food by The Sensuous Cook Chermean, and upscale decor by the QC Information Broker Coretta Livingston.
Livingston delivers a much-needed venue and exquisite décor. After being displaced from the North Tryon corridor unexpectedly, she relocated her event-focused business to the West Trade Street location in the Spring of last year. Notable obstacles have met her as a result of the Lynx Gold line streetcar construction and the COVID-19 pandemic. “Construction was bad when I first arrived. In October, the barriers moved from my frontage to that of Johnson C. Smith University,” explained Livingston. The relocation of the construction work allowed her business to get on the upswing. “The venue was booked from October to February. Then in March, Livingston was met with the disruptions of COVID-19. “I got knocked out again because of that,” said Livingston.
Livingston is hopeful things will get better. As the pandemic Stay-At-Home order lifts, Livingston is thinking of ways to approach hosting events safely. She has sanitized Venue @1801 and has done some upkeep improvements like re-finishing the floors, adding barn doors, and planting some flower beds outside. When the order allows for more gatherings Venue @1801 will be prepared by providing customers with gloves, encouraging mask wearing, and providing masks to event attendees that do not have one. She is also searching for sanitizer dispensers to place throughout the venue so people can keep their hands clean at events.
While awaiting re-open clearance for event spaces like Venue @ 1801, Livingston is partnering with community members to host social distance friendly events. Recently, she tested a drive-in concept with host DJ Crazy T. Livingston explains the set-up, “We placed a big screen at the rear of the property and orchestrated viewings from vehicles due to COVID-19. Eleven families participated in the pilot.” The family-friendly film Jumanji was screened and sound to the film was delivered as they tuned-in on their radios. “Starting in June we will have a drive-in movie and we'll have a food truck,” said Livingston.
The first event scheduled to happen inside the venue since the start of COVID-19 restrictions is a Pop-up Market for May 24. “Starting the second week in June I'm going to do something called Black Market, where people can come all weekend long and sell products,” explained Livingston. “Since everybody has been cooped up in the house a lot of people have created businesses. It would be great for them to be able to come out and showcase what they do.”
During Phase 1 of the Stay-At-Home order lifting, Livingston is having an uptick in calls of people interested in booking events for later in the year. Livingston is currently holding a special on venue rentals. “For the month of May I am offering a discount on any rental. They can either get a discount off their rental or I will give them a premium rental item for free. Premium items include a throne chair, champagne wall, or photo booth,” shared Livingston. Venue @ 1801 is accepting bookings from now until the rest of the year.
At Venue @ 1801 Livingston has hosted a variety of events from gender reveals and baby showers to birthday parties for people of all ages. Corporate events, church events, arts events, small business pop-ups and more have also found a home at Venue @ 1801. “I pride myself in customer service. In order to make things affordable for people, I allow them to bring in their own catering and to decorate. I also offer full-service if they want to come in, have a seat and enjoy”.
The goal at Venue @ 1801 is to provide an affordable location where the community and businesses can present ideas and celebrate important moments. Livingston said she wanted it to be a multi-purpose space where people can come and do all kinds of events. Not just for a club or party, but a place that you could bring your grandchild and your grandmother.
As the Stay-At-Home restrictions recede and the year rolls on some people are thinking about ways to gather at a social distance for events. On Charlotte’s west side, Venue @ 1801 is here to provide services that connect people while taking precautions to keep them safe. If you have questions about Venue @ 1801 reach out to Coretta Livingston at 704-951-4025 or visit www.qcinfobroker.com.