Local nightclub closes down after renovations


Photo by Karissa Berg

By Kristi Lucchetta, Contributing Writer

Asylum, the newly remodeled Cheney bar formerly known as Goofy’s, is closed after reopening on Sept. 4, 2015.

Julius Tepp, owner of Asylum, said he put thousands of dollars into renovations, with much more to complete. “Renovating and opening the bar put me in debt. My IRA now has 33 cents in it, and I’m $23,000 in credit card debt,” Tepp said.

Tepp bought the bar in January 2015, while it was still known as Goofy’s. “I went on a whim. I’m a project guy, so my wife encouraged me to take on a new project,” Tepp said.

The inspiration for the remodel came from the style of Goofy’s back in the 1970s. “It was the happening bar,” said Tepp. “The loft upstairs was open, and it was the bar to go to.”

While the new business owner and once contractor was waiting eight weeks for the liquor license, he did some minor renovations such as painting and tearing up the carpet.

“[Goofy’s was] still struggling. It was a dive bar that nobody went into because it was disgusting,” Tepp said.

Asylum opened as a nightclub and bar with limited food, including pizza and nachos. Tepp said the new basement they recently finished was an intimate space with a pool table, service bar and a placeholder for poker.

While Tepp was in college he worked at a bar. “I tended bar back in my 20’s and was a backup manager, but other than that, that was my only experience,” said Tepp. “There were many underlying costs and odds and ends I did not realize.”

The state of Washington’s tax system for businesses makes it difficult to stay afloat, according to Tepp. “You have to subsidize every month, and when you aren’t making enough for those subsidies, then those additional costs become overwhelming,” he said.

He described how slow months, such as when students are on break, put losses on the businesses in Cheney. “Businesses who are well-established and have the necessary amount of money to cover those months can survive the slow months,” said Tepp. “We would have had that necessary money if we had been in business for a couple years.”

“Turns out the only way to make it as a little guy in Washington is to lie and cheat,” The Asylum Facebook page stated.

Tepp’s original budget for the bar was $11,800 a month to keep the doors open and a third of all gross receipts went into inventory alone.
He admitted if he could do it all over again he would not do all the renovations at once. He would do them at a slower pace so he could afford to subsidize. “I didn’t expect it was going to cost that much to subsidize each month,” Tepp said.

Although Tepp said he had a lot of fun owning the bar, he said he had no plans to open another. “[The] bar business isn’t for me,” he said. “Mainly because I am not a people person. I do data analysis; I crunch numbers.”

The majority of Asylum’s clientele were EWU students, according to Tepp.

“I loved the students, I loved talking with them, with their open minds and raising discussions,” said Tepp. “I’m really going to miss the regular ones. They were all good kids.”

Tepp has had several people interested in buying the building, but so far it has not sold. “Whoever buys it has everything they need for a bar to operate that will last a long time. The new compressor will last them years, and they won’t have to put much money into it,” Tepp said.

Some students are curious what kind of business will replace Asylum. “I thought it was cool, there was a new club scene in Cheney, other than The Basement,” EWU senior Hailey Bettendorf said. “I am just wondering what they will put in there next.”