Multiple sources have confirmed that along with the Rockford, the Jackpot will be closing in the next few weeks. The bar is the child of The Stingray, a Five Points area bar started by Michael D’amelio around 1994 when he purchased the building that the Rockford would open in. The Stingray sat adjacent to The Rialto and established the tone and underground scene that would one day become the Jackpot. It wasn’t until later around 2001 that Michael closed The Stingray and opened the Jackpot.
The sign-less, opaque building sat quietly every day and then heated up every night with cheap beer, a cloud of cigarette smoke, enthusiastic DJs and a mixed crowd of students, urbanites and proximal apartment dwells nearby. Playboy U called it the ‘Diviest bar in Raleigh.’ D’amelio was involved in day to day operations early on but once the culture was established, the Jackpot had a loyal crowd of regulars. “Early on Michael would hang out at the Jackpot making sure shit was running smooth” said one former employee. D’amelio was respected and the culture and aesthetic restraint he built in the Rockford and Jackpot experiences was unparalleled and widely appreciated. NR has been such a fan of the Jackpot, we lampooned it on April fools with a series of posts joking of a change in ownership. D’amelio was so respected his friends made a facebook group “Michael D’Amelio for mayor of Raleigh.”
Last year, around the end of their 7 year lease, the building the Jackpot occupied was sold to Charlotte Developers operating under the name FMW Real Estate. Those developers have spent $14.5 million acquiring the buildings including the large Bolton industrial building and the IHOP that surround the Jackpot. Whether that project has anything directly to do with sudden closing is still unknown. The first phase of their redevelopment is $40 million for 32 townhouses on Ashe Avenue, a 240 unit apartment building and 10,000 sq feet of retail on Morgan. That portion of the project would break ground in spring 2011, but would not include the Jackpot or IHOP until the next phase.