Two years ago, Steve Goldberg paid seven figures for the Belly Up Tavern, which included the rights to the name. Last year he opened a second Belly Up in Aspen with his brother Mike. Within the past couple weeks, Steve found out about a Belly Up in Eugene, Oregon, that had recently changed its name from the Jungle. That club was reportedly co-owned by Belly Up talent buyer Jeff Gaulton.
"It's just dishonest," says Goldberg about Gaulton's attempt to hijack the name. Before Gaulton began work at the Belly Up in February, he booked talent at 4th & B; before that, he worked for the Bacchanal (a now-defunct venue on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard). Gaulton, whose family is based in Eugene, regularly commuted to Solana Beach. Last week, Goldberg told Gaulton that their association was over.
"I should have said something from the get-go," says Gaulton. "They feel like I broke their trust. I have no ill will against them."
According to Eugene's daily Register-Guard newspaper, Gaulton was co-owner of the 400-seat Belly Up in Eugene. Gaulton says his partners will follow a letter of cease and desist from Goldberg and erase all connections to the Belly Up Tavern name. (On Monday, the content of eugenebellyup.com consisted of the note: "eugenebellyup.com -- COMING SOON!!")
Goldberg says he is a looking for another in-house Belly Up talent buyer. He has no plans to set up an exclusive booking relationship with a larger company such as House of Blues or Viejas Entertainment.