With its trouble-spot location having become too troublesome, Wilebski's Blues Saloon in St. Paul plans to move a couple miles north to a new spot with its own history of problems -- 1638 Rice St., home of the former Club Cancun.
Owner Ted Wilebski's decision precedes his venue's involvement in a public hearing Wednesday at City Hall over the liquor license at his bar's Frogtown location, where it was a popular music venue in the '80s. He and his son reopened the Blues Saloon on New Year's Eve, sharing the license of their downstairs neighbor, the Moonlight Magic bar, which has drawn ire from neighborhood residents over crime.
"There was just too much uncertainty there," Wilebski said, noting his disappointment in leaving the neighborhood, where his late brothers also once ran a pizza place. "I would like to see someone else open there and keep the traditions alive."
But Wilebski is not looking back. He plans to open the Rice Street location by Aug. 13 and began work orders on it last week, starting with the painting of blues-themed murals inside. He hopes to serve food and will have twice the capacity to host bigger shows. In the meantime, he is moving this weekend's shows with California blueswoman Laurie Morvan to Valentino's, 200 Concord Exchange N., South St. Paul (9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10).
As at the old Blues Saloon, he will use the building owner's liquor license. Wilebski said he is not worried about past problems there, which included a high-profile gunfire incident in 2003 involving former Vikings running back Michael Bennett and other reports of violence when it operated as Club Cancun.
"Those problems solely had to do with it being an 18-and-over hip-hop club," he said. "We're obviously a completely different thing" -- his clientele is mainly middle-aged -- "and I think we're a great fit in that location."
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658