If you’ve ever dreamed of having Balsac grill a steak for you, it’s time to pony up.
Bandmates of the late Dave Brockie of Gwar -- including longtime cook and Gwar guitarist Mike Derks, also known as Balsac -- are keeping his dream alive. They’ve launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund GWARbar, a restaurant themed around the outrageous shock metal band known for dismembering public figures and showering its audiences in fake bodily fluids.
The band is working with Rappahannock Oyster co-owner Travis Croxton. They’ve found a building at 217 W. Clay St. in Jackson Ward, but need to raise $50,000 to update its interior and exterior.
Croxton says they have the money to start the restaurant, but not to do the place right -- and that’s where the online fundraising comes in.
“You can do it bare-bones and reinvest for three years or you can open it up the way you want from the get-go,” Croxton says. “Some bands have owned restaurants, but no one’s ever themed one before -- I guess Margaritaville, but this is a lot cooler than that.”
“Dave’s plans were to get through the band’s 30th anniversary and retire and pass the mantle,” Derks says. “GWARbar was the one thing he was most excited about.”
Derks has nearly 30 years of local restaurant experience, much of that working every job possible at the former Avalon. He says the GWARbar menu will be “intergalactic junk food” -- the band’s takes on such classics as SpaghettiOs with meatballs (but with real pasta), fresh ground burgers and hotdogs made from scratch.
But Croxton is quick to note the food won’t be too over-the-top.
“We won’t come out with a blood-soaked T-shirt on,” he says, joking: “Maybe we can put some [blood-filled] misters up in the parking lot.”
Derks hopes the restaurant will become a destination spot for travelers on Interstate 95 who want to stop and basically visit a Gwar museum.
Gwar member Bob Gorman is one of the designers working on the inside of the space.
“We want it to have that Gwar-dungeon feel, to feel like you’re entering Gwar’s world,” says Gorman, noting that the restaurant will feature lots of archival memorabilia from the band’s history. “Not just framed stuff either -- more like you’re at the Slave Pit.”
As far as perks on the fundraising page go, $1 gets you the band’s “undying scorn,” $25 gets it to “acknowledge your existence,” and higher donations such as $750 can land you a cooking class with Balsac. A $10,000 donation scores you a private party at GWARbar.
During the second phase of building, the band plans to create an expansive, upper-level outdoor deck with views of Abner Clay Park. It’s billing it as the best-ever beer GWARden in the city.
--additional reporting by Ned Oliver.