The Journal Gazette
 
 
Wednesday, December 02, 2015 12:22 pm

Snickerz owner looking for right buyer

Keiara Carr The Journal Gazette

After nearly 30 years, Snickerz Comedy Club owner Kevin Ferguson decided he was ready to retire and quietly put the business and property up for sale in November. 

It’s a decision he considered five years ago, and 15 and 20 years before that, but he believes now is the time to slow down. The building, property and business at 5535 St. Joe Road are listed for $1.5 million through Sperry Van Ness/Parke Group.

"I don’t ever want to get to this place where I hate coming in (to Snickerz)," he said. "I love coming in here now, so I want to get out while I still have time to do other things in my life."

Built in 1986, Ferguson says the original plan for Snickerz was to be a studio for his TV show, "Night Shift," which he wanted to be picked up nationally. Then the comedy club began featuring comedians such as Steve Harvey, Drew Carey and Tim Allen before they were famous.

"The comedy club just evolved, and it became an entity of its own very quickly," he says. "So I said, ‘OK, I’ll ride this pony for 10 years, and then we’ll call it a day.’ And to be honest, it’s so much fun owning this business, the time goes pretty quick. But there’s other things I would like to do with my life."

Ferguson said the business continues to be profitable with a 7 percent increase so far in 2015 compared to last year, and for now, Snickerz and its 16 employees will continue on until a new owner has been secured.

"I’m not one of those guys who would come in and say, ‘Hey guys, someone just bought this, you’re no longer working,’" he said. "I don’t believe anyone would buy Snickerz and want to do that. They’d want to keep my management, they’d want to keep my head server, they’d want to keep my head bartender, they’d want to keep my door person."

Buyers may opt to purchase the business, which includes all furnishings, restaurant/bar equipment and liquor license with a lease of the building for $575,000, plus leasing costs; or buy the property without the business for $1.07 million.

"I’ve had offers, and they weren’t the right offers," Ferguson said.

"I guess you can’t be too particular. If someone comes in and gives you a full money boat, you got to take it," he said.

"But I’m not interested in somebody who has a few bucks and an idea that this would be a fun thing to do. Someone has to have a vision, and experience is important. This is a tricky business. Entertainment, restaurants, bars – it’s tricky," he added.

Ideally, the buyer would be interested in retaining the entertainment value of the business. Ferguson says he would be open to serving as a consultant or a partner to oversee the comedy show.

He also would be interested in continuing "Night Shift," which he tapes every other Friday at Snickerz, but the future of the show would be contingent on the new owner.

"I just don’t want to be the day-in, day-out guy taking the deliveries, making sure the parking lot is clean, making sure that when you and your group comes in, you sit where you’re expected to sit. I want to be to able to keep the talent coming in," he said.

Despite the mixed feelings about selling the business after so many years, he is looking forward to having the freedom to travel, work on other entertainment projects and actually spend the weekend at his lake house.

"I think without me here, someone would pick up the reins because Fort Wayne is a good comedy town. The comics that come through are some of the people that we shouldn’t get because of what Fort Wayne will pay for comics, (but the comics) come here because of the crowds, because of the club, and hopefully because of me," he said.

"We are the cheapest comedy club in the United States for the talent that we get. We have been able to do that because the comics really do enjoy coming to Fort Wayne."

kcarr@jg.net 

   

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