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The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh Plans to Open a Music and Dining Venue

The Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh Plans to Open a Music and Dining Venue

Phil Lesh, bassist for the Grateful Dead, has finally found the place where he will realize his life-long dream of having a musical home.

Phil Lesh and wife Jill Lesh

Phil Lesh and wife Jill Lesh

Marin County’s Terrapin Crossroads is just such a location.

Lesh announced a week ago that he has purchased San Rafael’s Seafood Peddler restaurant and the adjacent Palm Ballroom. Lesh has plans of transforming the Palm Ballroom into the “Grate Room”, a concert hall featuring state-of-the-art sound, which Berkeley based Meyer Sound Laboratories will be providing.

The ultimate goal for Terrapin Crossroads, located at 100 Yacht Club Dr., is to have space for community educational and cultural events, along with its restaurant and lounge. The “Grate Room” will get a “cosmetic facelift” before presenting its initial performance in March.

Lesh says he intends to offer a “revolving door” schedule of musical acts featuring Phil Lesh & Friends; the Family Ramble Band which includes his sons, Grahame and Brian; a dance night with big bands; an improvisational and electronica groups experimental night; and local musicians to be known as the Terrapin All Stars.

“It will be a venue for things I have always dreamed of doing and couldn’t because I was often on the road,” said Lesh, 71. He also still plans to play and tour with Furthur, the band Lesh formed with Grateful Dead bandmate Bob Weir.

According to current plans, the restaurant at Terrapin Crossroads will be open again at

Seafood Peddler

Seafood Peddler

the beginning of February. During the first year of renovations, the focus will be on turning all the rooms into beautiful, warm, comfortable spaces. The search is now on for a chef who shares a similar culinary philosophy while bringing their own personal aesthetics to the menu, which will focus on sustainable and organic food straight from the farm.

Lesh, an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, says the redecorated and refurbished restaurant at Terrapin Crossroads will stay open as the “Grate Room” undergoes its renovation and redesign, planned for late this year or early 2013.

Lesh and wife, Jill, also plan to use the Terrapin Crossroads complex as a center for community educational and cultural activities in the low-income, largely Hispanic neighborhood.

“We want to celebrate art — especially music, dance, poetry, literature, culinary and the visual arts; eg., theater, photography, and other artistic creative endeavors,” Lesh wrote online. “Terrapin Crossroads is on the way to becoming a positive influence in the Canal District.”

As things always seem to happen for the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh discovered the ideas for Terrapin Crossroads and the Seafood Peddler location under somewhat mystical circumstances. As Lesh reread, “Chronicles,” Bob Dylan’s autobiography, he and his wife reminisced about the rehearsals they had with Dylan in the late ’70s to the mid-’90s at Club Front, the Grateful Dead’s studio/boys club in the Canal neighborhood on Front Street.

“We decided to go for a drive by the old studio after lunch one day,” Lesh recalled.

“When we drove by the Seafood Peddler, we both remembered the rehearsal shows we did with Further years ago and it hit us both at the same time; the Seafood Peddler could be the foundation for realizing our dreams. We had found the one place in Marin County where music could be made; just one of those moments you experience very rarely in life, when everything comes together and you know the right path to take in order to move ahead.”

Phil Lesh shares his vision for the Terrapin Crossroads music & dining complex online: http://terrapincrossroads.net

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