Hot Tin Roof Under Agreement for Sale to Rosenthal Brothers


The Hot Tin Roof, the 26-year-old Vineyard nightclub that has weathered the bumps of age alongside the baby-boomers who were its first patrons in 1979, is slated to be sold to new owners before the end of the year.

Barry Rosenthal, a West Tisbury resident and marketing and communications executive who is president of B/R Creative, has signed an agreement to buy the Roof along with his brother, Dr. Arthur Rosenthal, a Ph.D. scientist who lives in the Boston area.

Signed on August 16, the sale agreement calls for the Rosenthals, acting through the company BAR LLC, to pay $910,000 for the nightclub business, building and all the fixtures. The Roof is currently owned by HTRR Inc., a Delaware, Md., corporation headed by Herbert Putnam 3rd, an Oak Bluffs resident and Vineyard businessman, and Dirk Ziff, a publishing heir and resident of New York city and West Tisbury. Mr. Putnam is one of the original owners of the Roof.

The sale agreement includes the transfer of a lease with the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission, which owns the land under the building. Closing is set for Nov. 15, and the Edgartown selectmen this week scheduled an Oct. 17 public hearing on the transfer of the liquor license for the club.

The new owners are asking for an extended seasonal license; they plan to keep the club open from April 1 through Jan. 1.

The sellers were not available for comment this week.

Barry Rosenthal, who is perhaps best known on the Vineyard for his role in promoting and organizing the Vineyard Vibes concert, said while it was premature to talk about specific plans, the new Hot Tin Roof will be a community-oriented place.

"We really plan to involve the community a lot more," Mr. Rosenthal said yesterday.

He added: "The Roof, as you know, has a world-class reputation and like a lot of businesses has seen its ups and downs. We are just going to take that really good foundation and build more of the same."

Mr. Rosenthal said he will continue to operate B/R Creative. As a creative marketing specialist, he also acknowledged that the population is changing on the Vineyard. "We are definitely planning on appealing to the changing demographic - no question about it," he said, adding: "We plan to appeal to all the things that boomers like to do, from dancing to local talent nights to the big shows. As marketers we are going to respond to the changing Vineyard marketplace."

The plan calls for Cory Cabral to remain as general manager.

The Roof first opened in early June of 1979, and was owned by Mr. Putnam, George Brush and Carly Simon.

It was the first and only nightclub on the Island, and at the time some residents were concerned it would prove to be a wild disco scene, or an exclusive club catering to off-Island celebrities.

In fact neither happened. Events at the Roof ranged from concerts with Peter Tosh and Bonnie Raitt to community theatre to high-school fund-raising events.

In an interview with the Gazette in 1986, Mr. Putnam recalled the early years.

"There was some sort of aura about it that brought out the incredible drive and energy of the staff, to make it a really clean, really quality place. And it is . . . but the thing I enjoyed the most was the fundraisers, the community involvement. We raised a lot of money for a lot of good causes," Mr. Putnam said.

The nightclub has changed hands twice since then.

In 2001 the club hit a low spot and was closed and put on the market for $1.1 million.

It did not sell, but it later saw a small revival when it was reopened and used once again for concerts, comedy nights and fund-raising events.

Mr. Rosenthal said yesterday there are many details to finish before the sale is closed. "We have a lot of due diligence to complete in order to seal the deal. We hope to close before the end of the year and begin operating by April 2006," he said.

He expressed optimism at the outcome - for the old nightclub and also the Vineyard community that has supported it over the years.

"We will build upon the great foundation that previous owners have created over the last 25 years. The Hot Tin Roof will become a gathering place and community centerpiece for entertainment," Mr. Rosenthal said, concluding: "I see an upside to this place, and I think there is a changing of the guard on the Vineyard. And this is just another changing of the guards."