Gingko Blue, a jazz and blues bar at 455 Fore St. in Portland, has closed after three years in business.

The last scheduled show featured Tommy O’Connell & The Juke Joint Devils on Saturday. The bar officially closed Sunday.

The owners, Cheryl and Jeff Buerhaus, said they closed the bar to focus more on their restaurant, Walter’s, also in the Old Port. Jeff Buerhaus is the chef at Walter’s and Cheryl Buerhaus is the general manager.

“We want to focus our time and attention on just one business,” Cheryl Buerhaus wrote in an email Monday. “Jeff’s passion is food, so, of course, we are focusing those efforts on Walter’s.”

The closure saddened local musicians, especially jazz and blues musicians, who say there are few places in Portland for them to play and that Gingko Blue was a particularly welcoming venue.

Gingko Blue was “one of the few places that treated musicians really well, and paid well,” said Rob Schreiber, whose jazz band Standard Issue played the club monthly. “There really aren’t many places like that, where people came to have high-end cocktails and listen to sophisticated music.”

Schreiber’s band recorded a CD at the club, and he said the club’s management helped the band get on the local TV show “Good Day Maine.”

One of the few other music venues in Portland that has a focus on jazz is Blue, on Congress Street.

Kevin Kimball, slide guitarist in the blues band Blue Steel Express, said Gingko Blue was one of the few places where local blues bands felt welcome.

“We didn’t have to go in there and sell the idea of the blues to people. They came there expecting to hear the blues,” Kimball said. “So it’s really a shame to lose a place like that.”

Kimball says he hopes someone will try to fill the void by creating a club that caters to blues and jazz music. He is co-founder of the Maine Blues Festival in Naples, which he says is proof there is an audience for blues bands in Maine.

Cheryl Buerhaus said in her email Monday that she and her husband opened Gingko Blue because they love music and wanted to bring something “unique” to Portland.

“We appreciate so much the bands that have entertained our guests … and our loyal customers who have made Gingko Blue a resounding success,” she wrote.

 

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com