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Historic restaurant, music venue pressing pause on operations

Owners of BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups on South Broadway say it’s time to press pause on business and rethink its future.

ST. LOUIS — A historic St. Louis restaurant and music venue known for blues and jazz says it's pressing pause on operations. BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups has been around since 1976, hosting music greats but owners say it's time to rethink things.

Wednesday, customers called in and even showed up asking if the business is open. It’s not and word is beginning to spread. That finds so many across the region saying please don’t stop the music.

John May, the owner of BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups on South Broadway, respectfully declined to be interviewed but acknowledged it’s time to press pause on business and rethink the future of the legendary music venue, that most recently served customers seven days a week offering live music and food complete with two bars.

"Oh I'm sad,” said local bass and saxophone player Kenneth Black. "There's not a whole lot of places downtown in the city where you go and hear good bands from all over the city [and] from out of town. BB's always has, they're hand-picked so just anybody can't get up there.”

Andrew Bethany of The Drew Project has fond memories of the venue, which is known as a museum for local musicians.

"BB's is a staple, OK, it's the mecca, if you want to call it, the musician's mecca here in St. Louis,” he said.

“It’s given so many world-class touring musicians a home in St. Louis when they are touring through," said musician Brandon Santini of Springfield, Illinois. "I hope the community can rally behind them and get them back in action.”

Owners told 5 On Your Side they hope this isn't a farewell, but simply a see you later.

"I would hate to see that venue just go down and not come back. St. Louis loves blues. St. Louis Blues,” Bethany said.

"You need to be able to lift up these type of art institutions, these legendary places where so much history comes out of them, you want to see them survive, you want to see them flourish because when you support local artists, when you support local art institutions, you're supporting St. Louis,” said Jay Scherder of the Regional Arts Commission.

Owners say they're doing some renovating inside and during that time, figuring out how to appeal to a new generation of blues lovers. They hope they'll be able to re-open later this year.

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