Menlo Park's very own nonprofit music venue and event performance space, the Guild Theatre, is set to open in early 2022 with a robust lineup of acts spanning a variety of genres.
In the first quarter of 2022, the theater announced plans for shows ranging from local bluegrass prodigy Molly Tuttle to '80s pop band Berlin to indie rockers STRFKR.
Drew Dunlevie, president of the Peninsula Arts Guild, the nonprofit behind the project, recently gave a tour to The Almanac, outfitted in hard hats and reflective vests, to preview the new, roughly $30 million facility at 949 El Camino Real that aims to bring big live music events to the small city.
On the ground floor stood the unfinished walls of the box office, lobby, and stage, and workers tiling the new restrooms.
Throughout the tour, Dunlevie pointed out a number of specific touches planned for the facility: easy access from the side of the building for groups to load their road cases, world-class lighting and sound wiring, a bar, a green room area for performers to relax with a kitchenette, washer, dryer, turntable, two dressing rooms, and a catering kitchen.
It's also set up with a high-quality HVAC system to quietly push fresh air throughout the building, or on smoky days, recirculate air indoors. On the upper level, there is a second bar, a lounge area and a flexible rail system to the left and right sides of the stage to permit either dancing or seating, depending on the act.
And, neighboring residents with sensitive ears will be appreciative to know, "no sound will escape when the doors are closed," Dunlevie told The Almanac. "It's built to contain sound."
Plus, he added, one of the conditions of the project's approval was that shows will end at 11 p.m.
In working to line up acts, he said that one draw of the venue for big headliners is that the space can be used to help them raise funds for the causes they support.
While the official occupancy of the building still has to be confirmed with the Menlo Park fire marshal, Dunlevie said he expected the capacity to be around 500 people for general admission – standing only – and about 200 for seated attendees.
He said that, while the pandemic caused some delays during the initial shutdown last spring, the construction project hasn't been too delayed otherwise.
"We're going as fast as we can," he said.
As for the team financially supporting the nonprofit theater, he said, "They're all fairly ecstatic."
"There's a lot of goodwill in this thing. I think the donors are happy."
The Guild's opening lineup is: STRFKR (Jan. 18); Son Volt (Jan. 26); Molly Tuttle (Jan. 29); SuperBlue: Kurt Elling featuring Charlie Hunter (Feb. 5); Three Dog Night (Feb. 6 and 7); Aaron Lee Tasjan (Feb. 16); The Samples (Feb. 18); Berlin (Feb. 19); Robert Glasper (Feb. 25); Eric Krasno + Son Little (Feb. 27); Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Dance Party (March 1); Low Cut Connie (March 4); The Blasters (March 26); and Sarah Shook & The Disarmers (March 31).
Tickets go on sale at noon on Dec. 1. The venue is currently hiring. More information is at guildtheatre.com.
The Peninsula Arts Guild is also exploring whether there is a separate market for weekday Peninsula concerts and weekend bigger-city concerts, and thereby opportunities for cross-promotion, rather than competition with other Bay Area venues, said Dunlevie.
"We believe that there's enough music to go around," he said.
"We're going to be Switzerland," he added. "We'll keep smiling and being as sweet as we can."