Quinn XCII plays at the Knitting Factory in Boise, Idaho, last year, before a fire caused serious damage to the venue. (Courtesy Fadewood Live)

September blaze forced cancellation of 10 shows, relocation of others

The Knitting Factory opened its doors last week for the first time in six months after a fire ravaged the inside of the Boise, Idaho, venue.

Young the Giant performed to a sellout crowd March 7, the first artist to play since the fire Sept. 12. A contractor cutting through metal ductwork on the building’s HVAC system accidentally sparked the blaze, said Morgan Margolis, CEO and president of Knitting Factory Entertainment.

The company operates music venues across the country and lists 11 venues and four festivals on its website.

Knitting Factory officials and the owner of the building have spent the months since the Sept. 12 fire working with the fire department, filing insurance claims and finding other venues where the acts it had booked could play.

Margolis said the venue canceled 10 shows and scrambled to relocate 30 other acts. The venue has roughly 1,000 seats.

Some shows were moved to nearby venues, including the Egyptian Theater, the Olympic, the Balcony and the Knitting Factory in Spokane, Wash.

“The community really came together. Mind you, I’m sure most of them were happy to take those shows,” Margolis said. “We had to pay out some shows. We had to pay the guarantees, which is painful.”  

The fire damage cost “north of a million dollars,” he said, adding that the building also suffered damage from the water used to put out the flames..

“Electrical and sound don’t play well with water,” Margolis said. LED lights, green rooms, the bar, sound equipment, and more were all replaced, Margolis said. “The great side of it is we upgraded.”

The three-story, 75,000-square-foot structure is more than 100 years old and has eight tenants. The Knitting Factory occupies a third of the building on the main level.

“The firefighters actually said because of the age of the building and the multiple renovations it’s had, it was a very difficult fire to fight,” said Mindy Gronbeck, director of property management for Hawkins Cos., the company that owns the building. “We have all gone through a very tense six months in getting the Knitting Factory back open. It is kind of a relief that everything is done.”

Knitting Factory Entertainment Chief Financial Officer Chris Sherman said he had never dealt with something on this scale.

“Luckily, for the Knitting Factory, this is our first claim of this size and scope,” he said.

It took time and energy to figure out what the Knitting Factory had to claim through insurance and what the building owner claimed, he said.

All the other tenants are now back in the building, Gronbeck said.

“We’re just excited that the Knitting Factory is open again and that they have a future in our building,” she said. “They have a clean new venue.”