The diva of downtown dance clubs is holding a grand re-opening Friday beginning at 10 p.m. Club Marcella is celebrating Buffalo's renaissance with a renaissance of its own.
"We sell loud music and noise," says owner Joe Guagliardo. "With those elements out, what do you have? A sports bar and there's enough sports bars in the city. Please."
Marcella opened in 1995 as a gay dance club in the heart of Buffalo's Theater District, when there were more prostitutes and drug addicts downtown than businesses.
"Actually, I take responsibility for changing Buffalo in the right direction," says Guagliardo. "I remember the born-again Christians praying in front of the clubs for days. Churches were bringing busloads of people. I was like, 'What is going on?' I never seen anything like it, like you were gonna go in hell if you come to Marcella. It was just a trip."
Now, after a decade of running clubs in Miami, Guagliardo is back and bringing Marcella into the new millennium. A complete renovation has been going on these last couple of weeks. It will re-open with a fresh, modern Miami-inspired decor. Guagliardo says the time was right for the re-launch.
"There are so many new opportunities downtown. I've seen the growth in downtown. Every time I come in here, I see such big growth and, if it continues like that, we're gonna become a big city," he says. "When people start treating Buffalo like a city instead of a town, we are going to evolve. Noise helps everyone. When people figure that out that noise creates energy and energy brings people in, then people will hang out where they need to hang out."
Main Street's Marcella is now the longest running nightclub in the Theater District and Guardliardo says his patrons are now "70 percent straight."
"I was the first person that came downtown to invest money in a nightclub," says Guagliardo. "I remember when we first opened, I had to give money to the prostitutes to go to another block and prostitute. I said, 'Please leave. I have a grand opening. I cannot have you here on this street. Can you please move?' I gave them all money to move. It was the funniest thing ever."
He says the new Marcella will include semi-private VIP lounges with personal bottle service, state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, a new outdoor patio and a new coffee and sandwich bar - as well as traditional fixtures, including the club's famous Diva stage show, loud music and full bar. Marcella also is looking to host weddings.
"I come from Miami in downtown and if you can control the chaos, there is no problems," he says. "You know, people like to control too much and then you lose a lot. You know what I mean? A lot of people try to like, 'Ugh, too much noise.' But, well honey, that's why you live downtown - for the noise."
Click on the video below, shot just Wednesday, to go on a tour of what will be the new Club Marcella.