In December 2012, the Doll Hut's tiny roomful of locals were sobbing in their beers and shouting in the streets after the Yeastie Boys played the last scheduled gig at the iconic punk club. Music fans were sure the place was done, a chapter in our local music history closed forever, as the new owners planned to turn it into a Latino bar.
But a year after the club's supposed extinction, the Doll Hut remains alive thanks to former show promoter Michael "Mac" McGarvey and his longtime girlfriend, Tammy Butler. They bought the place from the previous owners and rehabbed it back to its former self. That just meant stamping out the bright colors, putting some blood and sweat back on the floor, and slapping band stickers on every wall. And suddenly, the world was right again.
"Everybody's really happy it's come back, and people keep thanking me," says McGarvey, a husky, bearded 38-year-old Long Beach native. "Everyone has special feelings about the Hut, and there has really been an outpouring of help and well-wishers."
McGarvey, who booked shows at the place from November 2009 until its final day in 2012, says that he wanted to buy the place last year, but it didn't work out. Luckily, the then-owners decided the little punk roadhouse wasn't for them anymore—confirming once and for all that if the Doll Hut isn't going to serve cheap beer and loud, abrasive music, it might as well be leveled. Seeing a new opportunity to grab the Hut, McGarvey jumped on it. Officially open since Jan. 2, it was christened by local bands Civil Disgust, Slave Labor Union, PROST and DMF.
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"I put an announcement up on Facebook [on New Year's Eve], and I had a lineup for a show put together by about 5:30 the next morning," McGarvey says. "The next day, we put in the sound and did the show. So I [was] just hitting the ground running. I had to do this—it was unexpected—so the first couple of months is gonna be pretty sketchy. . . . All those people who cried and said they missed it, we'd like them to come out and support."
He and Butler say they have received an outpouring of help from old friends and patrons of the club. Whether it was the chance to volunteer their band for a gig or paint over the wall colors left from the previous regime, loads of musicians and fans chipped in.
"One of the walls was orange, and I was like, 'Oh, no, I don't have time to paint it,'" recalls Butler. "And one of my friends got some paint and painted the band name Agent Orange on the wall, so it seemed deliberate. . . . We're giving it back to the fans, and if we can bring it back to the old place as much as possible, it's important. Because it really is loved."