Former club to get new life

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Dan Nagorski spray paints 45 records Dec. 28 to use as decorations in the soon-to-open Tazraks music venue, restaurant and bar at the former Columbo Cafe on South Main Street in Naugatuck. -LARAINE WESCHLER/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — The old Italian-American society building on South Main Street will soon see new life with the opening of a new bar and music venue.

Owner Ken Boland said he plans to reopen the nearly 5,000-square-foot building with a comfortable, easy atmosphere. The new venue, to be named Tazraks, will feature DJs and live bands every Thursday through Sunday, he said.

“Our goal is really to become the premier venue in the area,” manager Andy Vendetti said. “There’s a need for that around here. We’re trying to stand out as a music venue that has really good drinks and food.”

Boland said he chose the name because it’s catchy.

“We didn’t want it to sound too much like a club. We’re catering really toward the upper 20s on up,” Boland said.

The Christopher Columbo Society opened in the 1940s as a social club for the borough’s Italian-Americans. In 1994, Boland’s father, then-club President Joseph Edward “Jeb” Boland, opened the club to the public as a way to save it from closing due to dwindling membership, the Republican-American reported at the time.

When the elder Boland died in 2009, his son took over, but closed it a year. Ken Boland said his father kept the club alive so old-timers could play Pinochle and buy cheap drinks.

“Dad didn’t make money there. We just had to close it down. It wasn’t worth it,” Boland said.

In 2015, local comedian Dave Reilly opened a comedy club and restaurant in the venue. The shows brought in large crowds of people each weekend, with cars spilling out of the parking lot and lining South Main Street. However, the arrangement didn’t work for Boland, who closed the club about eight months ago after a falling out with his partner.

“We’re going to get this place up and running and it’s going to be better than it was before,” Boland said.

Boland said he’s renting the lot next door for employee parking so there will be more room for customers.

The venue is planning a soft opening in the next month, then build up for a grand opening in mid-February.

“We need to do it right this time,” Boland said.