For years, Ray’s Golden Lion in Richland’s Uptown was THE local live music venue. Like many, Talon Yager and Andrew McVay were part of that scene, playing in bands and attending shows. Over the last three years, they have poured their heart, soul, and money into bringing Ray’s back to life. They were set to open in September, but last-minute problems with the building forced a delay while they worked to complete necessary repairs. Opening is now scheduled for October 28, with hundreds of fans eager for the return. I reached out to Talon to ask about their decision to bring Ray’s back to life.
Ray’s Golden Lion is legendary, and you’ve been working for some time to bring it back to life. Tell me about your decision to restore the venue. Why did you take this leap?
My business partner [Andrew McVay] and I wanted to bring our home back. We loved Ray's, it was a part of us. We would frequent there every weekend as well as play shows very often. Ray's truly was social media before social media, in our area.
So, taking this leap was very easy for us. We wanted to give back to the community that shaped a lot of us and made us who we are, as well as being musicians. I’ve toured all over the country with my band, so being able to supply another venue into the rotation — a historic venue — for bands means the world to us.
What will be different and what have you tried to keep the same?
Some of the changes [are with] the menu. We’re going for more of a gastropub feel. We’re going to ride that line of good bar food and gastropub food, somewhere in the middle there. Other than that, the concept will be the same. Bar, restaurant, venue. 11am–2am daily. As far as renovations, we tried to keep a lot of it the same — like furniture, bar, stage, etc. — fixed and cleaned up. The bar and kitchen have seen the most changes, cosmetically.
It’s no secret that you have had challenges along the way, and just as you were set to open, you had some pretty significant problems with the facility. What happened and where do things stand now?
Yes, we had some major obstacles the last few months. Mainly plumbing and gas problems. We were set to open on the 30th of September, [then] we were told that we have a cracked pipe, and it eventually would lead to a flood. That was in the back alley way. They had to dig a 12-foot long by 6-foot-wide hole that went about 7 feet underground to fix the pipe. A few days later, I was out front when I saw a pipe burst and start shooting water from outside the building. They had to dig inside and outside the building to fix the problem. That added another week to our journey. The following week, we had an inspection on the gas plumbing where we found nine gas leaks. It was a whirlwind of emotions; at that point we thought Ray's was never going to get open. We finished [fixing] that up this week.
We are right at the finish line at this moment. We have passed three out of our final five inspections, and are set to have the final two in the next few days. If everything goes as planned, we will be open the weekend of the 27th–28th [of October].
Editor's note: Ray's Golden Lion is now open at the time of posting.
The community stepped up to help when you reached out. What has that meant to you guys?
We have the best community around! All of these great people stepped in to help us with a moment’s notice. Our Gofundme took off, as well as the Emerald of Siam holding an auction night for [people] to donate money to our cause. We couldn’t have finished this project without those guys!
Have you scheduled a new opening yet? Who will play the opening?
At this moment, we’re shooting for our regularly scheduled show on October 28, with Motley 2, L.A.’s premiere Motley Crue tribute band, and some local groups.
Editor’s note: One of the local musicians is Topp: https://www.eventbrite.com/cc/lifes-crazy-tour-2553229
You have so many acts already scheduled, some local, some from other places. How do you find and book the bands for Ray's?
We don’t really look for anything in particular. We try to group bands with a similar sound for most shows. We want to try and have any and all types of bands play here.
Anything in particular you look for when booking?
Most of the time the bands will reach out to us to put something together. If we get an offer from a bigger band on a label or something like that, we will reach out to bands looking for shows that fit the bill, and structure shows that way. If bands are looking to book with us, they can send an email to: Raysgoldenlionproductions@gmail.com
How can the community continue to support you?
The community can support us by supporting local acts, choosing us for their lunch and dinner, and just coming out to concerts.
How can your fans find out more about Ray’s, about your opening, and about future events?
Our social media pages will be the way to go. We’re very active and have been fully transparent through this whole journey. That will be the best bet for staying up to date on upcoming events and concerts.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks for getting the word out there. [We] want to thank everyone that helped us out through this whole process. We couldn’t have done this without everyone. It truly does take a village to Ray's a child! Thanks everyone!
Thanks so much for your time Talen! I’m looking forward to seeing you at Ray’s!
Ray’s Golden Lion is located at 1353 George Washington Way, Richland.
Ted Miller has been part of the local performing arts scene for over 25 years. He currently serves on the board of the Washington State Community Theatre Association.