Page 28 - BusinessWest October 13, 2021
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Revival on Race Street
Gateway City Arts Survives and Keeps Breaking the Mold
By Mark Morris
In his discussions with people in the com- munity, Vitek Kruta said it’s clear that Gateway City Arts (GCA) in Holyoke does
not fit the mold of a typical business.
In fact, the combination concert venue, art
gallery, cabaret-style theatre, and two restaurants that make up GCA definitely do not fit any mold, which has endeared it to thousands of support- ers in Western Mass.
“People were heartbroken, and they were just so kind and supportive.”
After 10 years of building up their business, Kruta and Lori Divine, co-directors of the com- plex, approached 2020 with the hope of expand- ing. Instead, COVID-19 hit and forced them to shut everything down. On their final night open before pandemic restrictions began, GCA had 40 people on its payroll and a packed house of 700 people in attendance for a concert.
“I made an announcement to the crowd to call us if anyone got sick so we could inform everyone else,” Kruta recalled. “The next day,
we realized we couldn’t continue like this. Lori, me, and all our staff quarantined for the next two weeks.”
What they didn’t expect was that two-week stretch turning into months of quiet and frus- tration — and, then, a decision
to permanently close one of the region’s most eclectic and intrigu- ing businesses.
Why they eventually reversed that decision — and how GCA returned to prominence as a destination for both local artists and national touring acts — is, instead, one of the region’s most heartening recent stories.
Back from the Dead
Only a couple months before
the pandemic, Kruta and Divine
had opened Judd’s Restaurant and
Bar, named after the Judd Paper
Co. that occupied the site many
years ago. Like restaurants all over the world, they made the pivot to takeout service for Judd’s. After trying for a few months to make that work,
Vitek Kruta and Lori Divine have begun phasing GCA’s various offerings back in, from live concerts to food service.
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