New gods in town
Will Funky Buddha Lounge’s new owners keep the vibes alive?
Funky Buddha Lounge general manager and talent booker Rene Romero walked into his office last week to discover the club he’d worked in for eight years had been sold. Seems that owner Mark Klemen, who’s run the club since he was 21, has been spending a lot of time in Hawaii and wanted to keep traveling in Bali and elsewhere. Last week, he quietly sold Funky Buddha Lounge and “green” sister spot, Butterfly Social Club, to the Orange Restaurant and Bar Group, which has several brunch places in the city but isn’t known for nightlife.
Romero tells us that the parties (such as OUTdanced), regular underground hip-hop performances and risky bookings that have kept the Buddha on the nightlife map will continue. “I think they have an interest in what Buddha has been and still is, and that’s good,” he says.
The change in ownership comes at a time when, by all accounts, Buddha bookings are thriving. And Klemen hasn’t neglected the newer Butterfly Social Club either. The club’s solar DJ booth is finally operational, its mud walls have been redone because they were showing premature signs of wear, and the space has gotten new recycled-wood benches. The biggest change at Butterfly will be more options at the bar, beyond the organic libations it’s poured since opening. Reportedly, Buddha itself has already slashed back on its own organic offerings. On the whole, Romero expects a businesslike tightening of the Buddha ship will be a good thing. “With efficiency you get added revenue and the ability to start to plan cooler things. Luckily, Buddha is still really busy,” he says.