Cooper's Landing changes in ownership

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COLUMBIA - For the first time in its more than 30-year history, Cooper's Landing is changing ownership.

Richard King, former owner of The Blue Note, is set to buy the mid-Missouri landmark with three partners.

Michael Cooper opened Cooper's Landing about 35 years ago and has owned it ever since.

Cooper said he's been looking for the right situation to sell Cooper's for a few years now and said this is it. Cooper is 70 years old and said he's looking to take a step back from working.

He said he's been looking for the right people to take over and believed King and his partners share his values for the landing.

King said Cooper's does not need much work.

"There's really not a lot we want to change," King said. "Clean it up, find out the things we need to fix and fix them."

Cooper agreed, saying King would have more time to put work into the landing than he's ever had.

"It’s pretty exciting for Cooper’s Landing that these guys will be able to make the improvements faster than I would've been able to make myself," Cooper said.

First though, King said he and his partners want to take things slow.

"I think what we want to do is we don't want to rush into it," he said." We want to get a feel for the people that go there." 

King said a lot of people have been worried about big changes to the family-friendly river spot. He said people don't need to worry.

"That is to me, and I like to call it the charm of Cooper's," King said, "and that part we don't want to lose."

One of those people that was a little bit worried is Dave Bandy.

Bandy calls himself "indigenous" to Cooper's. He said he's been singing songs and hanging out at Cooper's since its inception more than 30 years ago.

“We’re happy for Michael, but we’re apprehensive about how it’s going to change," Bandy said. "It's just been a family kind of a thing. We just don’t know."

Bandy said he's seen Cooper do a lot of amazing things.

"Michael has been the master of taking people that sometimes have no place to go and helps them get started," Bandy said.

Bandy admitted he does not think anyone can run this place like Cooper has, and that people are nervous for the change.

“I know he’ll have to make some changes and do whatever he has to do to suit his purposes," Bandy said. "Everybody is kind of nervous about where it’s going, but we accept what we get."

Despite the nerves, Bandy is excited for King to take over.

"I’m thankful that Richard got it because there’s nobody around here that’s promoted music like he has," Bandy said.

Bandy has admired Cooper's hard work for a while and said he is glad to see his friend get a break.

“He did everything for a while, and now he doesn't have to do that anymore," Bandy said. "He’s worked really hard, and he deserves a chance to get out of it.”

King said the deal should be final before April 1, and one of the first things he wants to do is get bathrooms and showers installed at Cooper's.

A few new ideas King has also thrown around include putting Airstream trailers or "tiny homes" in the RV area and using it as an Airbnb. 

King said the best thing about Cooper's has and always will be the sunsets.

"That's the big draw down there,"King said. "We've got a lot of sunsets coming." 

Even with the changes made, King said the important things about Cooper's will stay the same.

"But we still want to keep that down home charm that Michael has developed down there," King said.

Cooper said he supports King and his partners completely.

"It’s important for me to do whatever I can to see them succeed," Cooper said.