WILKES-BARRE — With the closing of Wilkes-Barre music venues like Cafe Metropolis and Murray’s, A.J. Jump and Mary McKenna decided to open a new entertainment venue.
Jump, a local musician, and McKenna, an area native who formerly worked in the area radio market and who now owns Universal Tours, plan to host musical acts and comedians in the basement space in the Polish Union Building, 53 to 59 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre.
They plan to open what they will call “Karl Hall,” named in memory of McKenna’s late husband Kevin Karl, who played in various bands throughout the Wyoming Valley for more than 20 years.
Karl and McKenna were known for performing with Midnight Rodeo.
Jump said the concert venue will fit 65 people seated or 100 people standing and could host local or national bands.
“There will be music of all different genres from jazz to R&B to hip hop to metal to punk rock,” Jump said. “Once Cafe Metropolis left, there was nowhere for young bands to develop and play shows like that anymore. There’s not a lot of music venues anymore.”
Jump has been a drummer for a number of bands including The Five Percent, Underground Saints, Indigo Moon Brass Band, Charles Havira Band, Oxblood and King Radio.
He has toured all over the country and played at many different places. He also has promoted shows over the years.
He formerly launched an entertainment series called “Unmundane” at the former River Street Ale House in Jenkins Twp. and hosted events at Canteen 900.
Jump, 33, a Plains Twp. resident and a former clerk at Gallery of Sound, also plans to invite comedians to perform at Karl Hall.
The space where Karl Hall is opening was formerly a basement bar and a small stage was already in place, he said.
The Polish Union Building has a rich history in Wilkes-Barre. It was built in 1936 to serve as the headquarters of the Polish Union of the USA, an ethnic fraternal insurance organization founded in 1890.
Jump said its location near King’s College is ideal.
“I would think that’s the epicenter of everything. In my opinion, it should be in the downtown,” Jump said. “Everything seems to be coming back downtown. There are new restaurants and a new feel for the downtown.”
A soft opening of Karl Hall is expected around Christmas and a grand opening will be held next year, Jump said.