Inside the Blue Note

Forgotten Dreamers performed at Blue Note in Napa. A Napa contractor is suing the Blue Note and Opera House claiming some $380,000 in unpaid work. 

A Napa contractor is suing the Blue Note Napa Valley and the Napa Valley Opera House, saying he wasn’t paid $380,705 promised for work done at the historic building.

According to the complaint, filed on Aug. 20 in Napa County Superior Court, Bowman Construction and Development Inc. is owed money for work done after July 29, 2016 at the Opera House. The actual time period of the work was not included in the complaint.

The company, represented by John Bowman of Napa, was hired to do “carpentry, electrical, plumbing and related work” for the Blue Note “project,” at 1030 Main St., according to the complaint.

An attorney for Bowman Construction, John Burton said the work included the remodel of the downstairs facility for the Blue Note music venue.

Burton said Bowman Construction was paid about $100,000 but is still owed $380,705.

“I don’t know why they’re not paying him,” said Burton. “No one has ever disputed anything he’s done.”

It’s fair to say Bowman is frustrated, said Burton. “He was promised he’d get paid and he hasn’t been.”

“He’s a businessman,” said Burton. “He just wants to get paid.”

Ken Tesler, managing director of Blue Note Napa Valley (BNNV-LLC) did not return a phone call seeking a comment.

An attorney representing the Opera House also did not return several calls asking for a comment.

In 2016, Blue Note Entertainment signed a 10-year lease at the Opera House with options to renew. The group decided to open its West Coast location at the Napa Valley Opera House after the failure of City Winery Napa’s year-and-a-half run. City Winery in Napa closed in 2015.

Blue Note Napa Valley operators proceeded with a remodel of the downstairs bar and restaurant to accommodate less than 150 jazz aficionados for dinner and performance almost nightly.

In November 2018, the board of directors of the Napa Valley Opera House announced a plan to either sell the historic building or find strategic partners to create an endowment to allow them to expand its programming “to be more meaningful to the Napa community.”

Cass Walker, the immediate past president of the board, stressed that Opera House is not in financial difficulties, as in past years, but is trying to “think outside the box.”

“We are in a good financial situation, probably better than ever,” she said. “Some board members feel we should sell the building and create an endowment to fund programming. Consequently, we have decided to see what possibilities are out there for us.”

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.