Club owner: Zebulon closed because new W’burgers aren’t like old W’burgers

Club owner: Zebulon closed because new W’burgers aren’t like old W’burgers
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

One of Williamsburg’s most-acclaimed music venues closed for good last week because “squares” have moved into the neighborhood, according to the club’s owner.

Joce Soubiran, one of the owners of Zebulon, said he shut down the popular Wythe Avenue club because new residents complained too much about the performance space.

“The people around us don’t want us,” said Soubiran. “Why would you move next to a music place if you don’t want music? The people around here want to tell us how to run our business.”

On one of the last evenings at Zebulon, speakers buzzed with the soft rhythm of Ethiopian jazz and an old foreign film lit up a back wall while patrons nursed their drinks and lamented the closure of the neighborhood joint.

“You could come in here and see NewVillager play a day before they played at the Bowery Ballroom,” said Alan Astor, who lives around the corner from the club. “Nothing else around here has the vibe of Zebulon. Now, you go to the diner across the street and they ask you if you have reservations.”

Soubiran opened the venue nine years ago with his brother, Jef, and their friend, Guillaume Blestel. Since then, they have brought weird, worldly, and experimental music and film to Williamsburg and served it up alongside cheap drinks.

Acts including Megafortress, Pulverize the Sound, and Janka Nabay have played intimate sets at the club.

But as the venue earned praise from music heads, it got bombarded with noise complaints, particularly in the past two years, said Soubiran.

On Halloween, authorities slapped Zebulon’s owners with a total of seven tickets for noise violations and allowing revelers to gather on the street.

Soubiran said it’s not worth the hassle to better soundproof the club or ask bands to keep it down because that would compromise the club’s authenticity.

He said he and the other owners might consider opening up in a different neighborhood — maybe Bushwick — at a later time.

“We are very tired and we need a break,” he said.

When asked what he will do when the squares move to Bushwick, Soubiran said he hopes to be retired.

“By then, I will be old enough to go to Brazil and play guitar on the beach.”