The Enterprise Theatre & Jazz Lounge has undergone a long, complicated, contentious, and downright strange saga, most of it related to the venue’s location at 2917 Georgia Ave. NW. Long story short: Enterprise owner Charletta “C.J.” Lewis sued building owner Michael Ressom over some unpermitted modifications to the property, and things got ugly. The dispute was resolved, and the suit dismissed, in May.
Personal tensions between owner and tenant have never faded, though, says Lewis, 33. “It’s been extremely stressful,” she says of her relationship with Ressom. “And I don’t think it’s going to get better.” She has put in notice; the Enterprise’s last day at 2917 Georgia Ave. is Aug. 31.
She was not kicked out, she says; their settlement included Lewis making good on rent she had withheld during the dispute. She also says business was doing well—-“It’s definitely been picking up”—-and the friction between she and the local Ethiopian community has simmered down considerably. “There hasn’t been any more trouble with that,” she says.
But, she adds, the still-in-the-works relocation (Lewis says other property owners have offered their spaces, but she won’t discuss details) is not the only change planned for The Enterprise. After Aug. 31, Lewis will step down as the venue’s general manager. “I’ve been working very, very hard,” she says. “Between that and the difficulties with the property, I’m burned out. I think the best thing I can do is depart—-and my kids need their mommy.”
She hopes, however, that the Enterprise’s new home will remain in the Georgia Avenue corridor, a community to which she remains committed. Although it may have to remain closed while a new location is finalized, The Enterprise has engaged this summer in an HIV Prevention/Education project for neighborhood residents that Lewis says will not be interrupted.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery