The 550-capacity music venue off Harbor Boulevard on the southern edge of Santa Ana, which had hosted stars ranging from Beck to Little Richard, shut its doors after years of decline, prompting one patron to remark, “I’m surprised it didn’t fall down before it closed down.”
The Galaxy reopened the following year, but over the past 10 months the once-decrepit club has experienced a rebirth, with new ownership, a new name and a new knack for booking top up-and-coming acts.
Local businessman and Costa Mesa native Jon Reiser, along with partner Courtney Michaelis, took over the Galaxy last August. They rechristened it the Observatory in the fall, after undertaking a complete overall of the structure, including the installation of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of sound and lighting equipment put in by the company that does light and sound for the annual Coachella and Stagecoach festivals.
Since then, the owners have repaved the parking lot, repainted walls, replaced floors, reupholstered booths and cleared out free-standing tables to provide better visibility of the stage. They also created a smaller venue-within-a-venue, a 300-capacity space with a substantial stage dubbed the Constellation Room, where smaller touring acts and local bands perform.
The marquee still reads the Galaxy Concert Theatre, though it is covered by a small banner with the new Observatory logo, Reiser says that is just one of many outside renovations yet to be finished. In the coming months the building, which Reiser and Michaelis are in escrow to purchase, will be repainted and its old maroon awnings will be torn down.