‘A really good run:’ Mad Frog bar and nightclub closing after 26 years

CINCINNATI (Enquirer) – After 26 years in business, Mad Frog is closing its doors. The decades-old Mount Auburn Concert Hall at 1 E. McMillan St. will host its final show on July 16, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.

A demolition permit for the building located at 1 E McMillan Street is currently being reviewed by the city.

Owner Aydin Kol plans to open a new bar and nightclub called Orb Nightclub downtown. The club will reside in the former Chalet Bar space at 920 Race St. and is currently undergoing renovations, and is expected to open in late August or early September.

Uptown Rental Properties LLC, a Cincinnati real estate development group, purchased Mad Frog in Kol in January.

For over two decades the bar and nightclub has hosted local and regional artists performing live music in a variety of genres including indie, jam, electro, americana, rock, metal , hip-hop and punk.

“Mad Frog has been a springboard for so many local bands and hosted so many regional and national musicians over the past 26 years of live music,” Kol told The Enquirer.

Before Kol bought Mad Frog in 1996, the place was known as Cory’s, a historic bar and jazz club owned by Dan Swango. The watering hole was widely credited with reviving Cincinnati’s blues scene in the early 80s and was home to artists like Pigmeat Jarrett, Big Ed Thompson and H-Bomb Ferguson.

“We started out with the blues, but the middle schoolers didn’t really like the blues as much as they liked rock and roll back then,” Kol said. “So for a year we did blues and then we changed it.”

Mad Frog was known for its salsa nights, where every Monday night attendees could find an energetic dance floor, take dance lessons and listen to live music from Latin band Tropicoso. Although the series takes place on Mondays, Kol said fans “religiously” attend the weekly salsa parties.

“If you give people a reason (to go out on a Monday), they go out,” he explained. “People were like, ‘Hey Aydin, we go to church twice. We go there on Sunday and then Monday evening. We’ve been doing these (salsa nights) for almost 17 years.

In recent years, Mad Frog has moved away from live music towards electronic dance, a shift that has been accelerated by the pandemic. Kol said he was unable to find a new venue in Clifton or Walnut Hills that would better suit the EDM crowds, so he started looking downtown. The Race Street space is approximately 1,000 square feet larger than Mad Frog and will have LED video wall screens for music-inspired visuals and more room to dance.

“I’m really sad that the Mad Frog era is ending, but I hope the news lasts at least that long,” Kol said.

In an email, Patrice Burke, vice president of development at Uptown Rental Properties, said the group had received an RFP to buy the city-owned property adjacent to the bar, which it also closed earlier. This year.

Future development plans for the area have yet to be announced, but Burke said they would be consistent with the proposal, which called for dense multi-family housing.

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