The Daily Pulse:

Annie's/Lucille's demolition won't include nightclub side

The proposed demolition of the Annie's/Lucille's space, which goes before the Downtown Design Review Board next week, comes with one significant footnote: the demolition would not involve the famous bar/nightclub side of the fondly remembered attraction.

Annie's unusual continental-style restaurant began in a very small concrete-block/stucco building by the train tracks in 1983. It was the first significant dinner restaurant in the reviving Old City, and could be regarded as the birthplace of the Old City as a modern nighttime attraction. After original proprietor Annie DeLisle left, the place became known as Lucille's.

According to preservationist architect Faris Eid, that original building, built in the 1920s and radically remodeled in the years since, has deteriorated beyond salvation and needs to be removed. Its poor condition is obvious even if you're not a structural engineer. It's crumbling, and in places you can see the rusted chicken wire that holds the stucco together.

However: In 1985, Annie's expanded into the larger and sturdier brick building next door, to add a bar, with access to an enclosed patio in back. For about 15 years, continuing into the Lucille's era, that bar became a late-night mecca for jazz hounds, as musicians like Donald Brown were regular performers, and it occasionally attracted interesting celebrities. You've probably heard some of the stories of big stars, after a sold-out show at the Tennessee, showing up at 1 in the morning to perform for a small crowd--or folk-music legends dancing barefoot on the bar. For those of us who couldn't afford the continental fare of the restaurant itself, that was the room we were referring to when we said, "Let's go to Annie's!" (Or, later "Lucille's!") To many of us, it was the most familiar part of the business.

That part of the old space will stay, for whatever it's worth, though the future use of that fabled room has yet to be determined. Developer Randy Boyd, who recently bought the buildings, is working with architect Faris Eid in a major project to stabilize that brick building and its more-famous next-door neighbor, Sullivan's Saloon.

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