No one is happy about the amount of businesses that are closing due to the COVID-19 shutdowns. Losing restaurants and stores that have been around for years is sad and difficult to watch. It’s a common theme during this pandemic that New Jersey people who have invested their life savings and dreams are now losing it all.

But to me, what is particularly difficult to watch is the shuttering of arts venues—losing culture. When I wrote last week about the historic Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank having difficulties and desperate for help to keep it running, I realized how important it is to have some sort of arts and culture here in New Jersey. And we’ve always been jam packed with it.

Then it was the Showroom Cinemas turn. The unique independent boutique theaters that showed a variety of independent films, including those by local filmmakers, could not be saved. Another huge loss to the cultural landscape of New Jersey.

I’m sad to report that according to, now it’s the Stanhope House that’s in trouble. It was a legendary blues club for years in New Jersey that attracted music lovers from all over. The article says that the Stanhope House opened as a tavern in 1794. The venue holds about 300 people, so of course given the new capacity rules, it would be impossible to hold shows and to stay profitable with 50 people max allowed inside.

Every state across the country has shops, restaurants, gas stations and salons. The music and art are what make each state unique. Any arts venue that goes down because of coronavirus is a huge loss. The article refers to the Stanhope House as the “last great American roadhouse“, and it’s true. Unless we can save the Stanhope House it is officially the end of an era.

A GoFundMe to support the Stanhope House and try to save it can be found here.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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