Business & Real Estate

Marilyn’s on K, longtime Sacramento music venue, will close

Singer songwriter Jackie Greene, shown in 2004, was one of many performers who got their start at Marilyn’s on K in downtown Sacramento.
Singer songwriter Jackie Greene, shown in 2004, was one of many performers who got their start at Marilyn’s on K in downtown Sacramento. Sacramento Bee file

The underground music venue Marilyn’s on K, one of the longest-standing live music venues in Sacramento, will close on Nov. 1, its owners said.

The business has been bought by a restaurateur from San Diego who operates two restaurants in that city – one of them called Coin Op, which sells microbrews and offers an arcade game room.

The closing of Marilyn’s is the loss of a key venue for live music in the downtown area. The business opened in 1998 at 12th and K and moved to its present location seven years later. It has presented more than 1,600 shows – including performances by Jackie Greene, who got his start at the venue.

“We had been looking to sell the business over the last year”, said Linda Swanigan, co-owner of Marilyn’s on K.

She said that the last two years have been hard ones for the business and that a downturn in attendance at the club became noticeable after the recession.

“That was when all the state workers started having their furlough days. That was when the dynamic changed,” Swanigan said. “The music changed, too. It became more difficult to get people to come out to live music.”

Swanigan said another reason she decided to sell the business was her partnership in a software and database company, called Paradigm Systems Inc. That venture has been taking up a bigger chunk of her time.

“I’ve been traveling more doing that, and as we were nearing the end of our lease we thought it might be a good time to sell,” she said.

Swanigan said she does not intend to open another live music venue elsewhere.

New owners Roy Ledo and Hassan Mahmood intend to open a restaurant similar to their San Diego Coin Op, including the arcade component, that will include as many as 40 video-game machines, Swanigan said.

“Our background is craft cocktails,” Ledo said. “We’re going with a classical arcade bar – with craft cocktails and craft beer.”

Ledo said that the new restaurant and bar will open in February and will have about 25 employees.

He also co-owns a San Diego cocktail lounge and exotic meat restaurant called Lion’s Share. That restaurant has seen a lot of business as a result of opening close to that city’s baseball stadium, Petco Park. Ledo said he’s excited that the new Kings arena is going up so close to the Marilyn’s on K location.

“We saw firsthand here in San Diego how Petco Park help develop the downtown area into a hotspot,” he said.

“My partner and I have been keeping close tabs on Sacramento and the farm-to-fork movement there,” Ledo said. “We have read about the buzz up there and it found it very appealing to us.”

As the clock winds down on Marilyn’s on K, Swanigan is focused on reaching out to anyone who has played at the venue. She plans to make the last day an all-day affair of music, especially past performers, before the doors close.

Swanigan said Marilyn’s on K has 13 employees and that the new owners are interested in rehiring some of them.

“I’m sad to be leaving just as the arena will be coming in and when new housing is being built down here,” she said. “I think the new group may be a good fit for what is new and happening down here on K Street.”

Call The Bee’s Edward Ortiz, (916) 321-1071. Follow him on Twitter @edwardortiz.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee