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Q&A with Ted Smith | Business

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Q&A with Ted Smith
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Q&A with Ted Smith

Written by Lindsay Patton-Carson

Questions for Ted Smith, general manager of the Orbit Room and co-owner of Tip Top Deluxe

You've been in the bar and venue scene for 20 years. You ran the old Intersection and you've been the general manager of the Orbit Room for eight years. Recently, you've opened Tip Top Deluxe, a rockabilly bar and music venue on Grand Rapids' west side.
It's been a lot of work. It's really my first time opening a bar from scratch, so a lot of learning for me. Luckily, I have a partner (Frank Lehnen) who's experienced in that. It's a relief having it open.

What was the most important thing you learned through the process?
There was a lot working with a building that was a hundred-some-odd years old and all the things you have to deal with with the city. It's hard to say. The biggest tip is to be prepared, get quotes on everything, know what you're going to be getting into.

How do you juggle the two venues, plus spending time with your wife and three boys?
Well, I'm not really used to it yet. I've not gotten a lot of sleep for the last couple months, but it's probably been more of a stress on my kids than on me. Every time I leave the house, I've got a three year old and a five year old saying, "I don't want you to go!" But between the two jobs, I don't see a conflict at all.

You're doing a lot of rockabilly and related genres with the acts you're booking at Tip Top. Is this the kind of music you like?
Rockabilly is definitely one of my passions, but rockabilly itself is a combination of several different forms of music. Primarily, it's a combination of rhythm and blues and country music and I think...

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