Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Revelers in last Tuesday's concert at the Jackpot Saloon probably didn't notice the sawdust they were kicking up as Pittsburgh rockers The Modey Lemon kicked out a buzzsaw set of bluesy garage rock.
"About an hour before we opened we still had tools all over the place," said Dave Simmons, a member of the crew that had been working double shifts the last couple weeks to get the bar at 943 Mass. St. ready for its long-delayed grand opening.
With more than 20 varieties of whiskey lining the bar and an antique pool table that would fit comfortably in a Dodge City facade, The Jackpot Saloon is Lawrence's newest music venue and also one of the downtown's most distinctive new watering holes.
Owner Nick Carroll -- who renovated the space previously occupied by La Tasca, a Spanish tapas bar that closed last November -- had initially expected the bar to open in February, but fire code regulations called for building a firewall on the ceiling.
"We basically had to start over," said Carroll, who also owns the Replay Lounge (946 Mass. St.). "The building will be up to code and practically soundproof."
The holdup meant that a number of shows initially booked for the Jackpot Saloon had to be rescheduled at other venues.
Local show promoter Jacki Becker of Eleven Productions said the new venue will be worth the wait.
"Hopefully it will add to the already fantastic live music scene here," she said. "Anytime a brand new locally owned and operated business downtown opens up, there are greater opportunities to bring great live music to Lawrence."
The venue will host live music three to four nights a week. The Jackpot will attract larger shows than The Replay, but with the same no-stage intimacy of that venue. Most shows will be 21-and-over.
"Unfortunately the building is in a high-rent district and we pay our bills with alcohol sales, so 18-and-older shows will be the exception rather than the rule," Carroll said.
Carroll, bar manager Matt Sullivan, and their team began renovating the space in December, gutting the kitchen and replacing the floor, walls and bathrooms.
The bar also features an upright piano, a turn-of-the-century pool table, and custom booth crafted to match the pool table. Carroll said the pool table would function as a centerpiece for the bar's Western theme.
"My father bought two Monarchs (pool tables) from the Salina Masons in the '60s," he said. "When La Tasca became available the first thing I thought of was how good one of those tables would look in the window."