It wasn’t Andrew McCarthy’s short-term goal to build an event center.
But an opportunity arose to buy the building two doors down from the downtown restaurant he opened in 2019, so the District Table & Tap owner decided to go for it.
Work now is under way on District Event Center, which will be at 218 W. Norfolk Ave.
“We definitely didn’t plan for this,” McCarthy said. “Not this fast, but buildings don’t come up for sale very often, especially this close to us.”
Over the past couple of years, McCarthy said he received several phone calls per week asking if District Table & Tap could accommodate parties of about 50 or 60. When he found out the space down the street had come up for sale, he saw an opportunity to better oblige those requests.
“They’re just everyday events — a baby shower or a diaper keg, a graduation party, retirement party,” he said. “When that space became available, it made sense for us to utilize that space for that reason.”
Although McCarthy still is waiting for capacity to be finalized, he estimated the venue would be able to accommodate a small wedding of about 150 people.
In addition to private parties, District Event Center will be used as an entertainment venue, as well.
McCarthy said he plans to regularly feature comedians and bring in other in-house entertainment, such as dueling pianos.
“We’re going to bring comedians to Norfolk every two weeks on Thursday nights,” McCarthy said. “For some of the bigger acts that it will be harder for them to get here for one show, we’ll do two shows back-to-back nights.”
The event center also will feature a full bar and food.
“The kitchen in the back area will be utilized by TaylorMade Catering out of Pierce,” McCarthy said. “They’re moving to Norfolk from Pierce. ... They’ll do all of our in-house events.”
The building that will house the event center is more than 100 years old and is undergoing a major renovation to prepare for its new role as an event center. McCarthy said he anticipates District Event Center will be open by October.
“We got the building in February and so we’ve been ordering things and pretty much have everything ready to go,” he said. “Once the electrical gets done, we’ll pretty much be ready to start moving in.”