WILMINGTON — Owners of World Cafe Life announced today they will cease managing the the Queen theatre in May. Meanwhile, representatives of Mayor Mike Purzycki’s office released a statement that a new management company will assume operations of the Queen, and said the venerable performance venue will not close its doors.
In a letter to news outlets and others, Hal Real, founder and president of Real Entertainment Group/World Cafe Life, said the the Queen was no longer viable as part of his World Cafe Live venues.
“Although financial sustainability eluded us for this project, I am proud that we played such a central role in ‘lighting up’ the Queen and turning it into a world class entertainment venue,” said Real. “I thank our wonderful staff, the talented performers and all of you for being part of such an ambitious and exhilarating effort. We certainly enjoyed some amazing moments at World Cafe Live at the Queen over these last six years.
“The optimism of those times convinced everyone involved, including me, that Wilmington’s time had come for a long overdue renaissance after years of decay, especially the blighted wreck that was lower Market Street. When I think about how lower Market Street looked and felt 10 years ago vs. today, it’s hard to believe it’s the same place. However, even though lots has improved physically on much of Market Street, the revitalization has just not been strong enough and fast enough to support our robust 7-day/week WCL model.”
Real said he will continue to focus efforts on the organization’s flagship location in Philadelphia and the company plans to present concerts and events at other venues in and outside the region.
According to the company’s website, Hal Real and his Real Entertainment Group open World Cafe Live in Philadelphia in 2004. In 2008, Real initiated talks with the Buccini/Pollin group and the City of Wilmington about the possibility of refurbishing the queen — closed since 1959 — and restoring it “into a fully operational performing-arts venue.”
World Cafe Live at The Queen opened in 2009.