The owner of an iconic downtown music venue says the future of his business is very uncertain.
Gerald “Jerry” Gillotti, the owner of Gilly’s Jazz at 132 S. Jefferson St., said he has a month-to-month agreement for that property with the city of Dayton.
As much as he would like to continue, Gillotti says he has faced reality.
“I am 80 years old,” he said. “I don’t have the health or the stamina or the years left or days left.”
He says he has not fully recovered and relies on his wife for transportation.
His brother helps him run Gilly’s.
Gillotti says he has entertained four recent offers to sell the business, but none of the offers were good. The business is not officially listed for sale, he said.
The month-to-month agreement with the city also compromises matters, he said.
Reached via text, Toni Bankston, the city of Dayton’s chief communication officer, said that Gillotti some time ago told city officials about his plans to eventually sell Gilly’s and have the new owner assume his lease.
“The city policy would not allow a new owner to simply assume the lease,” she said. “So we agreed to give the current owner a lease that is month-to-month. This would make it easier if and when the property needs to be turned over.”
Gillotti’s last lease with the city ended in May.
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The business has operated in the space since 1972. It has hosted a list of artists, including Tony Bennett, B.B. King and John Lee Hooker.
“I’ve had every jazz artist in the world,” he said.
The Dayton Blues Society recently canceled its winter blues showcase at Gilly’s scheduled for Jan. 13. Gillotti said he could not guarantee his business would still be open.
The uncertainty of the month-to-month arrangement has also made it difficult for him to book bands in the future. He would have to front money, assuming the business would still be there.
“I can’t be tied up with a month-to-month,” he said.
Because Gilly’s is a “show bar” as opposed to a traditional bar, Gillotti said he often has to pay acts up to 50 percent in advance to perform.
Despite his current predicament, Gillotti said he can’t complain.
“I’ve had (45) years, and they have been good years,” he said. “I haven’t made a lot of money to be honest with you, but it is a passion to present the music in the right way.”