Page 29 - BusinessWest October 13, 2021
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  By the end of Decem- ber, the business partners made the difficult deci- sion to close the doors at GCA and announced they were looking for a buyer of the complex. “We have reached the point where we just don’t have the resources and energy to try to survive,” they wrote on their blog. “It took us 10 years to start feeling that we could make it, and then COVID took it all away.”
When they shared
the bad news on social media, they received 60,000 responses on Face- book. “People were heart- broken, and they were just so kind and support-
ive,” Divine said.
Three potential buyers showed an interest in
the complex, but none of them seemed to care about bringing people downtown or the revital- ization of Holyoke.
“We both felt strongly that we wanted an orga- nization like GCA to take over this space,” Kruta said. Instead, when potential buyers toured the property, they had different ideas.
“It was heartbreaking to hear people walk through and say, ‘we’ll tear this out and that out,’” Divine said. “This business is our baby; we’ve cried, sweat, and bled for it.”
DSP Shows, a concert promoter located in
Northampton and Ithaca, N.Y., approached GCA when it heard the venue was about to close. For Kruta and Divine, that’s when the dark cloud of the past year-plus finally lifted. Conversations with DSP resulted in a management agreement by which DSP will run and staff the large hall at GCA, known as the Hub, for all concerts.
“With this huge responsibility being handled by GSP, it encouraged us to reopen,” Kruta said.
“This business is our baby; we’ve cried, sweat, and bled for it.
  Julien Baker plays to a packed house on Sept. 25, one of many national touring acts stopping by Gateway City Arts this fall.
they closed the restaurant.
When two rounds of Paycheck Protection
Program loans and a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant couldn’t keep them afloat, they tried a GoFundMe effort that raised $40,000.
“We appreciated everyone’s generos-
ity and how wonderful they were to support the GoFundMe,” Divine said. “But it went fast because this is a big building with lots of expenses.”
GCA has since begun reopening its various offerings. Now with a staff of six, it is first re- launching Judd’s with full bar service and a lim- ited version of it’s Czech-American cuisine. Kruta, who emigrated from the Czech Republic, said right now they will concentrate on feeding con- certgoers and re-establishing Judd’s.
“We will still feature Czech goulash and Czech paprikash in small portions as a way to keep the spirit of our popular offerings from the restau- rant,” he added, noting that the plan is for Judd’s to once again offer its full menu by January or February. Once Judd’s proves successful, the pair hope to open their smaller space, the Famous Café, for breakfast and lunch service.
Divine said she is most excited about a new venue GCA has created known as the Divine Theater, which will feature different and smaller
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