Owner of Centennial Hill Bar and Grill Structure Talks Future of the Building


By Ashley Thompson

The Centennial Hill Bar and Grill has been closed since December 28th, after a shooting at the venue left three people dead.

The man who owns the Centennial Hill Bar and Grill building says he is selling the building and wants nothing more to do with nightclubs.

Richard 'Squirrel' Thomas bought the building back in 1978 and turned four walls into Top Flight, a popular nightclub.

Bobby Blue Bland played me twice a year," he says. "Millie Jackson played me twice a year, The Manhattans, you ever heard of them? They were good friends of mine and played me three times a year."

The nightclub was more recently known as The Rose Supper Club. But Thomas says times have changed since he ran the club in the 70s and says he is now through with the building after a recent shooting took three lives.

"Who wants a building where three people have been killed?" he asks. "I'm hurt. Now three people have been killed in my building and right before that, a year ago, six people were shot."

The latest killings at the nightclub have prompted Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange to shut it down. He says he'd like to see the building transformed into something community oriented, like a church or a daycare. But could the city buy the building?

"Oh sure, the city could buy the building but we're not," says Strange. "Frankly, that's not the government's job, to go in and be the developer. We're to put the infrastructure in place to allow that to happen."

More than two thousand people have signed a petition to have the building demolished. Though Mayor Strange says that's not very likely to happen.

"We just do not have that authority," he explains. "It's not structurally unsafe and unsound."

But Strange says Thomas does have the authority to level the building. Though Thomas tells us hearing that people want the building gone is disheartening.

"It hurts when somebody says I want to burn it down,' he says. "But I know, you can't blame people. I know how they feel. I'm hurt too."

Thomas says he has no plans to build another bar in the near future and Mayor Strange says he will never allow the building to become another nightclub.