An interview with Jim Clapp, en route back to Elberta from Florida
By Susan Koenig
So the famous Cabbage Shed, Jim Clapp’s dream since he bought the property in 1972, has been sold. Shortly after its 30-year anniversary party on Halloween, the keys changed hands last fall, and after renovations over the winter, the place opened up about two months ago under the new ownership.
Tongues are wagging now regarding the new owners, ambiance, music, food (will things change?), and what is Jim Clapp going to do now?
We at The Betsie Current decided to find out. We caught up with The Shed’s founder on his way back north after a winter in sunny Florida, and we asked about his new life, his dreams, his goals, as well as his hopes for The Shed and what he will miss most about his former life.
What I miss about being the owner of The Shed:
The hustle and bustle. Not me having to hustle and bustle, but being around our great staff as they buzz hither and yon, setting up for a busy night, or watching them put out that extra effort during a rush, even though they may be tired and ready to put their feet up. We’ve had so many wonderful and memorable employees.
The music, of course. Having the chance to perform and to meet—and sometimes to play—with such talented musicians has been great!
Our customers. We always tried to provide a comfortable, accepting—and dare I say loving—environment for anyone who honored us with their presence. A lot of my friendships started at The Shed.
Working with my kids. The biggest plus for me has been being able to work with Becky and Dan, to get through the stressful times (what times aren’t stressful in the restaurant business?); scary times; many, many funny and joyful times. I was never really sure what my father did for a living; he disappeared into the [Brooklyn] subway every morning and re-emerged every evening, but I really didn’t know exactly what transpired between those events. My kids know exactly what my work has been, and they’ve seen how I deal with employees, customers, vendors, etc. They’ve seen who I am, complete with all the blemishes. And I’ve had the chance to really know them as adults—they have no blemishes.
What I don’t miss:
All the work. Running a restaurant is very hard, stressful, exhausting work. And as much as I’ve loved it, as I’ve gotten older, it has become increasingly difficult, even though Becky had been doing virtually all the real work for the past 15 years or so. I can’t say enough good about Becky’s management of The Shed.
Dealing with governmental agencies. Filing reports. Worrying about people getting home safely from The Shed. Hoping that someone would show up to hear the expensive band we’d booked.
What’s next for me?
I’m really looking forward to getting back to Elberta and seeing what the new owners, Colleen and T.J. Hudson, have done with The Shed. I hear good things. I’ll get to enjoy the place without having any of the concerns of ownership, and I’ll have more time to spend with my kids and grandkids. And I’ll still get to play music there, now and then [at Thursday night “open mic” at 8 p.m.].
Winters in St. Petersburg [Florida] are pretty great. Our apartment is on a lake in the downtown area—lots of good restaurants, entertainment venues, shopping, etc. Walk or bike to everything. I’ve been able to perform a bit, which has been fun. I even took a painting class this winter. Abby and I are really enjoying apartment living. Lots of socializing, partying, music-making with people we’ve come to care about. It’s kind of like living in a fraternity house, but you have your own bathroom, and there are no panty raids. Then there’s the homeless community I hang out with pretty regularly—also a fun group. Apart from the very long drive [1,500 miles], this is a nice life, going back and forth.
Click here to read “Romance at The Cabbage Shed,” an article by Susan Koenig from The Betsie Current archives that printed back in 2006.
Feature photo: Jim Clapp (R), who owned The Cabbage Shed for 30 years, plays with the Platte Plain Wolf Pack during the final Halloween party under his ownership, back in 2015. Photo by Aubrey Ann Parker.