Bull’s Tavern will close after 10 years in business in downtown Winston-Salem. | To eat

Bull’s Tavern, a go-to bar for many music lovers in Winston-Salem, is closing permanently at the end of August.

Owner Danielle Bull made the announcement Thursday on Bull’s Facebook page. She thanked the many staff, customers and friends she has known since the bar’s doors opened on November 12, 2012.

Customers gather outside Bull’s Tavern.

Andrew Dye/Journal

“The service industry is not for the faint of heart…. But you all made the impossible possible night after night,” she said. “It’s bittersweet but I’m so glad the last ten years have happened. It’s been a dream come true…. It’s been the joy of my life.

Tavern of the bull

Karon Click and the Hot Licks perform at Bull’s Tavern on Fourth Street.

Melissa Melvin Rodriguez

Like thousands of bars across the country, Bull’s closed for about six months in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, then reopened with limited capacity and revenue for many months thereafter. Bars were allowed to fully reopen in May 2021.

Bull managed to hang on, at least for a while. The problem, says Bull, is that customer habits have changed.

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“From time to time, bars need a reinvention to stay financially viable. I realized about six months after the full reopening that I was not going to find the spirit of Bull’s again – for a thousand reasons. I’ve seen the trends and dealt with new ideas, but haven’t found anything that I’m personally excited about,” she said.

Tavern of the bull

Danielle Bull takes care of the bar at Bull’s Tavern. The bar is made from a walnut tree that Bull’s late father felled and ground when she first opened the bar.

Andrew Dye/Journal

Bull’s is a small space that has offered a lot of live music – nearly 2,500 shows in 10 years. For Bull, it was as much a concert hall as a bar.

“Ten years ago, the space worked perfectly for live music. Now people who see live music tend to spread out a bit more. And now a lot of people who frequent downtown bars like high-end cocktails,” she said. “I only wanted to sell alcohol for the music.”

Bull is particularly proud to support local, new and established groups. Doug Davis, a local musician who hosts numerous shows and special projects, said he was especially grateful for Bull’s support of charity music events, such as his Friday Night Music Club.

“We worked with a number of venues for these shows, but Danielle “got it” immediately and joined right away, despite the difficulties of hosting and marketing these kinds of events…. She has always been extremely generous in her contributions to the various causes we have worked with.

Tavern of the bull

Leslie Miller (left) and Danielle Bull, owner of Bull’s Tavern, sand a table shortly before the bar opened in 2012. Bull found his tables, originally from an 1890s Norfolk Southern train, in a material warehouse.

Andrew Dye/Journal

Nate Tomkinson is a musician in the Fruit Smoothie Trio who also worked as a sound engineer at Bull’s for about six years.

“When Bull’s was hot, it was hot. On Friday and Saturday nights, we would be at capacity by 11 p.m. and we would have lines up the block,” he said. “Danielle steered a good, tight ship. She got into so many bands, she found people who were friends of friends — and she gave them a stage and let them play.

During the pandemic, Bull has also become an advocate for bar owners. She helped found the NC Bar Owners Association during the height of the pandemic. She was among a number of vocal bar owners who opposed what they saw as unfair COVID restrictions that kept bars closed while allowing the majority of liquor-licensed businesses – including restaurants, breweries and wineries – to operate. She is one of a handful of plaintiffs in an ongoing lawsuit, filed in 2020, asking a judge to declare Governor Roy Cooper’s COVID-19 executive orders related to the bars a violation of the state constitution.

Tavern of the bull

Marvelous Funkshun plays Bull’s Tavern in 2013 at Bulls Tavern.

Walt Unks/Journal

“I don’t plan on being involved in the downtown late-night bar scene, but I still want to be an advocate for the bar industry,” Bull said. “I always want the mission (of the association) to succeed.”

Bull said she wasn’t sad about the closure. It’s just time to move on.

“I’ve made a living for a long time doing this. I’ve created jobs. I’ve brought a lot of music. I’ve done what I set out to do. But I’m just ready to go in a different direction “, she said.

She added that the bar holds many personal memories because of her father, Darrell Bull, who died in 2019 after a long illness at 59.

“He was a wonderful carpenter. He built almost everything in this bar,” she said. “He was living his best life in retirement working for me. It’s just another blessing the company has given me.

She has no plans yet. “I’m going to take some time off. But I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and I’m sure that will continue. I have lots of ideas. »

She is particularly interested in continuing to support the local music scene.

“It wouldn’t shock me if I was home for a week, had a new idea and launched something on October 1st,” she said with a laugh.

Bull’s space is getting a new tenant, although Bull declined to comment further.

In the meantime, Bull is planning a month-long celebration of the bar and local music before closing on August 27.

As Bull ended his Facebook post, “I have so much more to say and will be sharing memories and more story over the next month.”



David H. Henry