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VOL. 129 | NO. 212 | Thursday, October 30, 2014

Newby's Owner Raising Money to Keep Doors Open

By Andy Meek

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Newby’s owner Todd Adams has turned to crowdfunding to help him raise money that will be used to keep his bar and music venue on the Highland Strip open.

Newby’s owner Todd Adams has turned to crowdfunding to help him raise money that will be used to keep his bar and music venue on the Highland Strip open.

(Daily News File Photo)

Adams has set up a GoFundMe account to raise $25,000 to help keep the doors open at Newby’s, which Paragon Bank foreclosed on this summer. The owner of Newby’s since 1997, Adams wants to get to the point where he can buy back the property, after which he then has a plan to reshape its layout and include a bevy of additions.

“As I’m sure you have heard, Memphis is in danger of losing one of its most enduring icons of entertainment,” Adams writes in a note to encourage donations via the GoFundMe page.

Newby’s, he goes on to write, opened its doors in 1975, and Adams went to work for David “Newby” Harsh himself eight years later. Ten years after that, Adams says he jumped at the chance to buy the property.

“Having been in this great 100-year-old building for almost 30 years, I've seen a lot of changes,” Adams continues. “The recent boom in Overton Square and the renovation of Downtown (are) stunning and great for Memphis. The next logical step in Memphis' development is happening now, the University District, and I, ‘Too Tall’ Todd want Newby's to be here when it happens.

“There are many things going on behind the scenes to keep Newby's where it is … I've created this account to raise $25,000 to help keep Newby's doors open, while we keep moving forward with our plan to buy our property and renovate the establishment we love.”

As of Wednesday evening, Adams’ GoFundMe page had brought in more than $5,100 of his $25,000 goal. As part of the fundraising push, Adams also is offering ownership shares and property investment opportunities.

In a Facebook post on his personal account Wednesday evening, partly in response to the pledges so far, Adams wrote about how he’s reached out to Memphis City Council members and they’ve returned his calls as well as shared advice.

He added that after reaching out to Memphians for help, "my city responds with open arms (bearing) gifts that they can not even afford to give."

Adams had spent years fighting to keep the business afloat, with his troubles at least partly attributable to the wake of a lawsuit filed against Newby’s in federal court several years ago by Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), a group that licenses the music of songwriters and publishers.

The group employs several tactics in building a case against a business that doesn’t have a current license, which would otherwise allow them performing rights to the BMI catalog. Those tactics include sending an anonymous researcher on-site to collect evidence.

Those researchers show up and order from the menu, hang out and socialize - all while secretly recording the details of who exactly is playing which copyrighted songs. Which is what happened in the Newby’s case.

Court documents showed Newby’s was being watched on New Year’s Eve in 2006. A BMI researcher was in the crowd, making notes about the audience listening to performances of songs like “Get Down Tonight” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band.

PROPERTY SALES 105 193 8,028
MORTGAGES 120 239 9,024
BUILDING PERMITS 192 445 17,512
BANKRUPTCIES 27 69 5,228