By Matthew Gundrum —

The Raw Deal has recently been bestowed with a new stage to adorn its charming aesthetic. Being labeled by the establishment as “Raw Deal 2.0” this stage is by no means a minor addition.

“The intent was really to take the things we care about–quality, carefully prepared food, beer and coffee, and make sure that the physical space showcases them,” said events coordinator Amber Georgakopoulos. “We have this amazing historical building, and we love to bring people together in it. Our staff totally threw themselves into the project, working hard to hand-letter menus, paint bookcases and haul couches.”

According to Georgakopoulos, community satisfaction was the driving force behind building this stage. However, fostering appreciation of entertainment was cited as well.

“We are fortunate to live in an area that is chock-full of really great musicians, and we have been lucky enough to welcome a wide variety of genres into Raw Deal over the years–from folk, to punk, to storytellers and beyond,” Georgakopoulos said. “We are looking forward to expanding our line-up to showcase the varied acts and talent of our local artists as we break in the new stage.”

The stage itself is just as organic as the Raw Deal philosophy: original wood from architectural salvage in Eau Claire. Coincidently, it is from the same plot number as the wood used to make the actual floor. Therefore, the finish is identical to that of the floor, allowing for the stage to blend seamlessly with its surroundings.

Every detail, down to the builders themselves, was carefully chosen to maximize quality. “The stage was built by Mike Falls,” said Georgakopoulos. “Falls is a local guy who has done a good part of the construction in here over the years, including the barstools and large new tables. We think he’s a genius. The location of the stage gives us a lot more options to effectively utilize the space for many different events.”

The Raw Deal is dedicated to serving its community, and this stage is the physical exemplification of that. “It is not just a stage for musicians,” said Georgakopoulos. “It is for politicians and comedians and poets.  When we say we support the arts and that we want this to be a place for people to come together, it helps to have a physical lay-out that facilitates that. We can’t just say that community and creativity are important to us, we have to prove it.  And hammering nails into the stage is just a start.”

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