GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — For Kristofer Sunico, music is a lifelong passion.
“I started playing drums when I was 13 years old. I got to see my favorite band play when I was 13 years old,” Sunico said.
As he picked up his musical talents, he started learning the promotional side of music as well, booking shows in the 300-person space inside his church in Mebane.
“I know what it’s like to be on stage in front of a bunch of people in a packed out room,” Sunico said.
He started a booking and promotions company called Crank It Loud to connect bands with venues across the state but knew he wanted something else.
“That’s the endgame,” Sunico said. “Every promoter’s dream is to own a music venue.”
At the beginning of August, the opportunity opened up for him to buy all of The Blind Tiger, a well-known music venue in Greensboro. Sunico already owned a small portion.
“With their trouble, it was kind of easy for me to step in and say, ‘hey, I will buy you out of this and make it an actual music venue’ which is what it was intended to be,” Sunico said.
That trouble happened on July 31 when police say 19-year-old Pedro Alegria was shot and killed in the parking lot of The Blind Tiger.
It happened during an “after-hours” gathering or “club night” at the space.
“I think the only real difference is new ownership, new management and no club nights,” Sunico said.
Sunico says the after-hours parties aren’t worth the safety risk and don’t contribute to his business long-term.
“This is a music venue. We do live music. If it’s not live music, we shouldn’t be open that day,” Sunico said.
According to business owners in the area, the after-hours parties were the main source of their frustration. One business owner said after a club night they would find trash at their doorstep.
The other change is the name–going from The Blind Tiger to Hangar 1819. According to Sunico, the name comes from one of his favorite bands.
Sunico tells FOX8 that people travel from across the state to see acts they love in the space. People can still expect to see the same bands and national acts.
He’s currently talking to a well-known third-party security company about providing regular security at events.
“People are here for one reason, and that’s music…then they go home or buy merch and go home. That’s it. We cut the lights on after the band plays,” Sunico said. “There’s no loitering or anything afterwards.”
Sunico acknowledged changing the idea and perception of the venue will take time, but making the music the heart of their business is the first priority.
“How can you inspire the younger kids to play music if they can’t come to a music venue?” Sunico said. “We can’t let live music die in Greensboro.”
Sunico tells FOX8 he talked to Mayor Nancy Vaughan and other city officials about taking over the business.
He is still waiting for approval of his liquor license, something he says will be essential to the longevity of the space.
FOX8 reached out to the ABC Commission to see if the purchase and change of hands of the business will affect the proceedings against the former owners of The Blind Tiger and have not heard back.