Backstage Caf closes after eight-year run

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By Becca Owsley




ELIZABETHTOWN — After eight years of business in downtown Elizabethtown Backstage Café has closed it doors for the last time.

Carla Riggs-Hall and Bruce Caldera created the business to be an oasis of the arts in Hardin County and support a variety of art forms and independent songwriters. The café hosted award-winning artists who performed original music — no cover music.

After traveling around the country with Riggs-Hall’s singing career they wanted to try something downtown like the venues they had seen while she was performing.

People would come and perform for what they made at the door because they believed in what they were trying to do.

“We were an enigma for a while, we had every reason not to survive,” Caldera said.

To last eight years as that type of establishment was unusual for their format. The doors closed Sept. 20.

“I’m proud of what we did,” Riggs-Hall said.

After Riggs-Hall had an injury the business became much harder to maintain. They put all profits back into the business and used their dancing, music, acting lessons to support themselves.

The current economy and the rising costs of gas, food, supplies and other expenses made it very difficult to operate the business.

“We kept trying and all of the sudden it just happened,” Riggs-Hall said.

They had a lot of people come out to help them and the people are who they will miss most about the business.

“I will miss the people who came to try something new, interesting and different,” Caldera said.

They feel many enterprises leave downtown because there still is no identification of what downtown is and what kind of businesses need to be there.

For now Riggs-Hall and Caldera are going to continue teaching but are open to any opportunity that might come their way.

“You just never know,” Riggs-Hall said.

The café was a dream they had for years and an opportunity for artist and patrons to combine in one place.

“Putting the people and the artist together, it was like magic — I will miss the magic,” Caldera said.

The couple feel they succeeded in a lot of ways and wondered if maybe it was only supposed to be for a short time.

“I hope we became a part of the history of Elizabethtown,” Caldera said. “Maybe some day we will be featured on the Walking Tour.”

Riggs-Hall said she will walk proudly into her next adventure quoting lines from a song she is writing, “I might cry but I won’t crawl.”

She reflected back to a time when she saw a young man covered in tattoos and piercings sitting in the corner of the café learning the banjo from a man in overalls.

“I thought yea, we are doing the right thing, it’s about the art,” Riggs-Hall said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.