NEWPORT NEWS—Good Vibes, the concert hall and event venue that will soon take over the space vacated by Boathouse Live in City Center at Oyster Point, is waiting for final approval from the city before reopening the facility’s doors. The venue features an 1,100-person capacity with a VIP lounge for 150 people or so as well as a 40-plus-foot stage—one of the biggest on the Peninsula for a venue of its kind.
The main bar will have more than 50 taps featuring craft beer and cider as well as a fully stocked bar. The kitchen will serve a wide variety of food, including tapas, pizzas, and more, but they do not plan to be open for lunch. “To do this right, we’re not going to waste any resources on being open for lunch during the week in an enormous event venue,” said Matt Lockhart, the owner of Good Vibes. “We’re just focused on events. I’m mean, we’re going to do brunch on the weekends because I feel like that’s a winner no matter where you go, but right now, we’re not going to be open unless there is an act up on the stage. But when we do have an event, we’re going to make sure that our customers get a great choice of quality food like tapas, then during the show have pizza and wraps available.”
A self-described “old-school Deadhead,” Lockhart plans to bring in a lot of jam bands once he can officially start booking acts. “I’m not saying we’re not going to do other genres of music—and we definitely are—but my personal tastes are jam bands and jazz,” said Lockhart. “We’re going to have nationally touring bands, we’re going to do Friday and Saturday night club night party dives, and we’ve already booked a bunch of acts, including Grammy-winning jazz artists. We’re really going to focus on the weekends.”
Lockhart is also looking forward to “make-your-own” Bloody Marys on the weekends. “I’ve looked into it, and we’re going to break the world record for the biggest Bloody Mary bar,” he said.
As for the stage area, Lockhart has pulled out all the stops. The brand new, state-of-the-art sounds and light system is designed to amaze crowds, and there is a seven-foot grand piano and Hammond B-3 organ ready for performers. “We were told that we have a better sound system than the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach, and the best light show in the area,” stated Lockhart. “I went baller with that stuff because I wanted every show to be an experience that would be awesome so people would want to come back.”
Born and raised in Newport News and a musician himself, Lockhart started down the path to this venture because he wanted a good place for his band to play. “We go to places and the stages would suck or the sound would suck, and I’d be like, ‘dude, I don’t even want to play here,” he said. “‘I can’t even be the best that I can be.’ I’m lucky enough to have crawled my way up from nothing in the investment real estate game. That has definitely allowed me to walk into this and not have to really stress about it. If I break even on this thing, I’ll keep it going. I mean, if I’m taking a bath on it and it’s painful, I’ve got five years to take a painful bath and it’s going to be a huge party for everyone else. But I think we’re going to be okay.” Interested parties can hear a sample of Lockhart’s music on https://mattlockhartband.com/. The band has a new album coming out soon.
To be successful with this venture, Lockhart also realizes he needs to appeal to a variety of audiences. “I have the contractual right to take over the City Center common outside area 12 times a year for block parties, festivals, whatever I want to come up with,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to do it this year because of covid-19, but I bought basically a semi-truckload of haunted house equipment and we’re going to turn City Center into a haunted house. That’s the kind of thing I want to do, but also have events that are family friendly. Obviously, no family is going to be coming out at midnight on a Friday for a dance party, but Sunday afternoon? Yeah, we’re going to be family friendly. That way we’re catering to different audiences, expanding our net of who our customers can be, and not just trying to be one thing. But we’re also not going too crazy.”
For additional information on the venue, visit www.goodvibesva.com.