Winds of change chime for Tejon retailer, nightclub

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Changes are coming to Tejon Street.
After 50 years, Bryan and Scott Jewelers, downtown’s oldest and most prestigious luxury retailer, will soon close. A block south, Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli have closed Rum Bay and begun a $1 million renovation.

Nightclub undergoing $1 million renovation

Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli are used to placing big bets on downtown.

One of their biggest bets paid off spectacularly when they opened Rum Bay, the first downtown mega-club, in 1998.

“We thought it’d last for three, four years,” said Sam Guadagnoli, “but here we are after 12 years. It’s always done well, and it’s been the busiest club in the state for several of those years. We’ve made a few changes, but now it’s time to redo everything.”

Rum Bay closed for good at 2 a.m. on July 18. The next day, the Guadagnolis pulled a building permit for “interior demolition and remodel.”

By the afternoon of July 20, much the building’s interior had been gutted. Workmen carried 16-foot lengths of clear, century-old Douglas fir planks through the front door to a waiting container.

“No, you can’t have these!” said Guadagnoli. “I’m not throwing these away. You can’t buy timber like this. They’re being recycled in another 100-year-old building that I own out in Ellicott.”

“Wait until you see the (rehabbed) club,” he continued. “Including the furniture, the sound system, the décor, it’ll cost us more than $1 million. We’re opening at the end of August.”

In the past, officials at the downtown partnership have been less than supportive of the downtown nightclub scene. Asked whether that’s still the case, Ron Butlin laughed.

“That horse left the barn a long time ago,” he said. “I’m pretty happy they’re doing (the renovation). Sam and Kathy have invested real money in downtown, most recently in the Red Martini remodel. It creates jobs and brings people downtown. This shows that they’re confident in downtown’s future.”

As to why the couple decided to make such a substantial financial commitment during economically difficult times, Guadagnoli’s response was brief.

“When you’re going through hell,” Guadagnoli said, “don’t slow down. That’s what Winston Churchill said.”

Guadagnoli said that the new nightclub would continue the multiple-club theme pioneered in Colorado Springs by Rum Bay, but refused to reveal the new establishment’s name, or anything else.

“You’ll have to ask Kathy about the name,” he said, “and I won’t tell you anything else, because our competitors will just bad-mouth us.”

Kathy Guadagnoli was equally reticent.

“I can’t tell you (the name) because I might change my mind,” she said. “That’s a woman’s prerogative.”

Upscale retailer closing doors by year’s end

Bryan & Scott, founded in 1938 and located at 112 N. Tejon St. since 1961, will cease business on Jan. 1.

“I have no choice,” said Roberto Agnolini, who is in his 80s and has owned the business for 53 years.

Agnolini is scarcely driven by financial pressures, but the slow local economy, a moribund commercial real estate market and the extraordinary value of the store’s inventory make a sale difficult, if not improbable.

Agnolini has long catered to a very private and often very wealthy clientele. Functioning as vendor, adviser and decorator, he has gained the loyalty of an extraordinary array of clients.

The shop itself, which features fine art, jewelry, antique furniture and objets d’art, has long seemed an anomaly in the increasingly raucous downtown scene.

A supporter of local artists and artisans, Agnolini has frequently shown contemporary art in Bryan & Scott’s premises.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Jerry Rutledge, who has owned the eponymous downtown men’s clothier since 1968. “It’s an incredible loss to downtown.”

The Downtown Partnership’s Ron Butlin was taken aback by the news.

“If that’s true, it would be a great loss to downtown,” he said. “Bryan and Scott creates some of that eclectic energy that we need.”

Agnolini confirmed that the building is for sale, and that the store’s inventory will also be sold.

“I hope that I can sell the building in this market,” he said. “I’ll be sending (the inventory) to auction.”

Bryan and Scott’s long run is, according to at least one customer, a tribute to Agnolini. Interviewed in December for a Business Journal profile on Agnolini, Colorado Springs client Sue Autry sang his praises.

“Roberto is a savvy negotiator, both as a buyer and in dealings with his customers,” said Autry, whose family has done business with Bryan and Scott for more than 50 years. “He has a talent for identifying the very best, and his taste is impeccable.”