Grand Stafford Theater Honored with Willie Bennett Spirit of Downtown Award

This week, Grand Stafford Theater, a member of the Innovation Underground and a new live music venue in Historic Downtown Bryan, was honored with the City of Bryan’s Willie Bennett Spirit of Downtown Award. The team is honored and humbled by the award and eager to tell the story of what is just the beginning for this great downtown venue. The Innovation Underground (IU) took a few minutes to interview Grand Stafford Theater General Manager Carlton Lee to hear first hand the story and plans for the Grand Stafford.

IU: How did it feel when you and the Stafford team first heard that the Grand Stafford Theater received the Willie Bennett Spirit of Downtown Award? Were you expecting this at all?
Carlton Lee, GST: I was surprised and very proud of the hard work that the people on our team put into making this happen. It is humbling to know that there are unnamed people out there that have been positively influenced by Grand Stafford Theater. It is hard to know everyone of your supporters by name so this honor let’s us know that we are on the right track. I am thankful to all of our patrons, partners and supporters. Without their help this would not have been possible.

IU: Who all was involved in the remodeling of the Stafford? What was the experience like from remodeling to the first opening?
Carlton Lee, GST: Our contractor Larry Daniel of Make Rite Contracting was amazing! We had a hard deadline and I let him know that up front. I called him because I know his strong work ethic and quality craftsmanship. Larry would clock 40 hours in three days because he wanted to see us up and running and was committed to the goal of Grand Stafford. Other pivotal people on our remodeling were James Tates of Christian Brothers Plumbing and B&B Electric. We thank all of them for their hard work!

IU: What drew you and the people involved to reopen the Stafford?
Carlton Lee, GST: I was drawn in by the opportunity to be a part of something different. Music is exciting. It breaks down barriers between people and creates a common bond. Also, downtown Bryan is historic. I have heard stories about the Stafford from people who remember it as far back as the 50s. I am happy people can build new memories in this place. Our team really wanted to put together a project that would bring something fresh to the community as a whole; contribute in a meaningful way to culture, commerce and community downtown.

IU: Do you and the Stafford team have any particular plans or ideas for the future?
Carlton Lee, GST: One thing we are doing is listening to feedback from our community. We are headed in a new direction and the community has a lot of influence on where we go from here. Starting in the spring we will feature Two Tons of Steel once a month. If you haven’t seen them they are a wildly talented Texas swing band from Austin. Some of the crowd’s favorite shows from the fall will be back, like David Ramirez, a singer-songwriter based in Austin.

We are also going to bring a lot of up-and-coming bands and artists to introduce the community to the quality music that Texas has to offer. Some of my favorite shows in the fall were bands I didn’t know existed and now I have their album on my playlists!

To keep up with the latest on Grand Stafford Theater, visit the web site at , follow on Twitter @StaffordTheater and like GST on facebook at .