NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As COVID-19 cases continue to climb across the state, a staple in the North Little Rock community is on the brink of closing its doors.
Owners of The Joint Theater and Coffee House say restrictions have made it hard to fill their seats and now they are asking for the public’s help.
“This has been a long haul and it’s been very sad,” said Vicki Farrell, co-owner of The Joint.
Farrell says the pandemic hit them hardback in March and they have not been able to recover since. Prior to the pandemic, she says they could count on revenue with a full house.
“It’s packed all the way back with well over one hundred people and we can’t do any of that now,” recalled Farrell.
Farrell and her husband Steve Farrell have run the comedy club for nearly 10 years. He says they have never been as financially strained as they are today.
“We are literally bone dry at this point,” said Steve Farrell, co-owner of The Joint.
He says he feels the financial hardship is due to the many guidelines put in place by the Arkansas Department of Health. Some of the guidelines mandate seats are six feet apart and that performers stay 12 feet back from the audience. In addition, the ADOH mandates the performers stay 12 feet apart from each other if they aren’t wearing a mask.
The owners say because their venue and stage are small to begin with, it’s even more difficult to accommodate the mandates.
“We’ve brought in basically zero income since mid-March and no assistance ahead,” said Steve.
The Farrell’s say they have scaled back to three shows a week and are running on very limited seating. They are now hoping the community will step up so they can stay in show business.
“I think it’s important for the Joint to stay alive because people need to laugh right now,” said Vicki Farrell.
The family has set up a GoFundMe hoping to save the Argenta staple. Farrell says any donations will help so they can continue providing laughs to central Arkansas.
“We want to stay here, and we hope we can for a very long time,” said Vicki Farrell.
If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe, click: https://www.gofundme.com/f/iconic-arkansas-comedy-theater-fights-to-survive