Things are settling down in the Agora Theater and Ballroom end of the Jigsaw fiasco ("The Jig Is Up,” March 18). Agora owner Hank Loconti says Jigsaw owners Phil Lara and Terry Buckwalter are no longer involved with the operation of the legendary Agora.
Buckwalter and Lara, technically, remain partners in a corporation the three formed in October to run the Agora. And Loconti is working with Buckwalter to make good on some of the debts the Agora accumulated over Lara’s tenure, including vendor bills, paychecks, and the Black Keys’ $50,000 payday for two sold-out concerts in January. Tired of waiting for payment, the group sued in March. Buckwalter, a Pennsylvania anesthesiologist, is paying the band $5,000 a week until the debt is paid.
“I took over the operation,” Loconti says. “We split mainly over the Black Keys, and the fact that it took so long [to pay the band]. That’s not how you do business. … Terry has made a personal commitment to try his best to clean up as best as he possibly can. He is doing what I consider the honorable thing. He is working hard to solve as many problems as he can.”
But Lara and the staff he imported haven’t been running the Agora for three weeks. Loconti reinstated the show booker Lara had ousted.
Lara and Buckwalter bought the Jigsaw in December 2007. In summer 2008, they made substantial downpayments on Lakewood’s Hi-Fi Concert Club and downtown rock club Peabody’s, but quickly defaulted on payments. The distinct Agora deal began in October, just as the credit crunch cut the businesses’ life line.