Maxwell’s big move to a larger space

In May 2008, Maxwell’s Music House opened to the public, and after six and a half successful years with over 2,000 events, it’s moving up the street and changing to Maxwell’s Concert and Events.

The change in brand and identity comes from the change in venue size; Maxwell’s Music House, located at 220 King St. N., had a capacity of 80 people, but the new venue can hold over 800, opening the doors for new possibilities and bigger events.

Paul Maxwell, the founder and owner of the business, came up with the idea in 2007 as part of a fourth-year entrepreneurship class at Wilfrid Laurier University. Like many entrepreneurs, Maxwell started the business venture out of personal need ­­­— being part of a band at the time, he was constantly looking for a place to practise and found himself jamming in a church basement.

This might not have been an issue if Maxwell didn’t play the keys, but lugging around multiple keyboards from his home,  down the  stairs into the church basement, and then back again, was a hassle he wanted to avoid.

The practice and performance space that Paul envisioned is still a possibility in the new venue. The 9,000 sq. ft. building will be divided into two rooms, with a smaller room in the front with a capactiy of 200 that can open up and become part of the large room at the back.  This design allows for the intimacy that the original venue was known for, as well as louder, more crowded affairs.

With greater space comes greater responsibility, so Maxwell, the CEO, and Dave Mansel, vice-president and only other shareholder, partnered up with the owners of Morty’s Pub in Waterloo, Jay Taylor and Steve Campbell. The two new partners bring the expertise that they have learned from their years running Morty’s and are helping to apply it to the bar — the biggest source of revenue at Maxwell’s. Don’t worry though, Morty’s will stay where it is.

As a farewell to the old venue, Maxwell’s hosted Gob, a pop-punk band that Maxwell had grown up listening to, on their final concert weekend. The Bosswich’s and Breaching Vista, both of which started playing at Maxwell’s in 2008 when it first came into being, opened for Gob.

The following weekend, Maxwell invited friends and family out for a more personal celebration of the venue’s closing. The Wormwood Scrubs, a band that built the performing stage in the old venue, played the last song that would ever be played on that stage.

Permits, approvals, designer plans, and stamps are only part of the hurdles that have to be overtaken before opening. Though he has no exact opening date, Maxwell expects to be open sometime this fall after an “arduous” summer of work, as he put it.

“Everybody asks ‘are you excited?’ That word isn’t really there for me yet because there’s a long road ahead. I’m very excited about the future, and I know that this part of the journey is exciting and I’m seeing it coming together, but I’m more  into work mode now, looking at this massive space, over 9,000 sq. ft., and all the work that needs to go into it to get it ready. So exciting is one word, and arduous is another. I keep saying that word. It’s going to be a long journey of work, but exciting work at the same time.”

The planning for this big move to 35 University Avenue East started in 2011, when Maxwell first learned that the contract for Dooly’s would be terminated in May 2013.

It would have been an easier move were it not for the zoning problems that popped up. Originally, the building was zoned for industrial recreational use, but Maxwell required a new zoning for live music or amphitheatre use. They also had trouble with a neighboring landowner who was worried about parking, but with an estimated 242 parking spaces, Maxwell’s will have more parking spaces than any other commercial building in the region. After three days at court, Maxwell’s won and was awarded the rezoning for the plaza in January 2014.

Once open, Maxwell’s will have a consistent schedule for different genres of music different nights each week, and running events at least five nights a week. One of those nights will be an all ages event,  the rest strictly 19+.

For those of you who are excited to perform here, make sure to remember that Maxwell’s won’t be taking any bookings until the end of summer.


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