The Boulevard looks for road to success


Charles Boyer is the owner of Boulevard Entertainment Lounge in Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Charles Boyer insists he’s not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings while transitioning the former Cowboy Up country nightspot into his very own The Boulevard, which he labels an “entertainment restaurant.”

After all, this is his lifelong dream and he said he has his own vision of what it takes to write a success story in the entertainment business in Dover at the location off Lafferty Lane near Dover Air Force Base.

Mr. Boyer said he just wants a place where all people can get together, have a tasty dining experience and enjoy a good time afterwards with music and dance.

“Enjoyment — that’s what I want,” Mr. Boyer said. “I want everybody to leave here feeling like they had a great meal and a great time and that they want to come back.

“(Cowboy Up) primarily just offered country music, but I want to do it across all genres and offer all types of entertainment here.”

Mr. Boyer initially purchased Cowboy Up from Jimmy and Felicia Baker back in September, but is just now starting to transition the club away from what had been a popular nightly country experience.

Mr. Boyer, who is also a member of a R&B band called Unlimited, sees a chance for everybody to be able to stake a claim in The Boulevard’s success.

He is planning for a week that will eventually include live jazz music on Sunday, country music and line dancing on Tuesday, trivia Wednesday, Top 40 music Thursday, Latino nights on Friday and live bands across various genres on Saturdays.

“We’re going to be bringing in different bands from different genres and this is going to be a place for all, not just one set of people,” Mr. Boyer said.

This isn’t his first foray into the entertainment business.

A couple of years ago, Mr. Boyer, who retired in December 2016 from the Air Force Reserves, bought a few shares in a restaurant in Middletown that he eventually had to walk away from because it wasn’t performing up to his expectations.

Then, just as he was getting his start-up party-bus company up and running, he got the call about Cowboy Up. He said he had asked Jimmy Baker a year ago that if he ever wanted to sell to let him know.

In moving to restaurant/nightclub ownership, Mr. Boyer sold one of his party buses but kept the other “for people celebrating their birthdays and stuff at The Boulevard. If they’re within a 15-mile radius then we’ll pick them up and bring them here and get them home safely.”

Right now, Mr. Boyer is in the process of hiring staff — he has only a couple of employees left from Cowboy Up — designing a new logo and getting the word out about his new endeavor.

“I’m even now finding out while I’m doing this by myself that it can be hard, but I like the entertainment business,” said Mr. Boyer. “We’re bringing in a whole new staff. It’s going to be a different environment. We’re still growing.

“We’re still working on some things and getting out the kinks and stuff. I know sometimes there are things that people are used to or we didn’t get to something fast enough for them, but we’re working on it.”

One of his biggest challenges the new venue will face is trying to change the perception of the venue from a country hotspot to a more diverse entertainment landscape.

Cowboy Up, which opened in 2012, gained popularity quickly, particularly for its country music and line dancing.

Over the last five years, Cowboy Up had hosted many regional country music acts and a host of community fundraisers.

The Bakers announced back in September 2017 that they were selling the venue.

“It is with mixed emotions that we announce Cowboy Up has been purchased,” Mrs. Baker wrote in an email, back in September. “We take this opportunity to thank our many loyal customers, of which many have become friends … even family. We have had a great run these past five years and it would not have been possible, without your support and loyalty.

“We look forward to welcoming Chuck to this new venture and know you will support him, just as you have us. Make sure you take the opportunity to welcome Chuck, he is a great guy and very excited to continue to offer a fantastic place for music, dancing and great food.”

Despite the initial kind words, Mr. Boyer admits he has received some pushback from some for deciding to change the nightspot’s country-flavored reputation, even though he still plans to host country bands and have line dancing one night a week.

“I’ve gotten a lot of backlash, but then I’ve also gotten a lot of praise and everything from the other people who say, ‘Hey, this is good because we don’t have any other place to go,’” Mr. Boyer said, “and they’re happy to see it opened up.”

Among some of the notable events that are being advertised on The Boulevard’s Facebook page include: Soul Line Dancing featuring the First State Steppers on Thursday night, a Valentine’s Bash on Feb. 14 featuring the acoustic musical stylings of Emily Moses and Bodhi Woof, and The Budesa Brothers performing live jazz on Feb. 18.

“This is all very new and we’re still in the process of bringing it all together but we’re excited about it,” Mr. Boyer said. “We’re just getting started.”

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