The new Redding bar Capone’s has been in business about three weeks and co-owner Jayson Burris says the speakeasy-style lounge has exceeded the business plan so far.
Located across from the Cascade Theatre at 1724 Market St., Capone’s has been drastically transformed from its blue-collar existence as the Clover Club.
The wall dividing the former Rene Joule Patisserie and the Clover is gone. The new opposing wall is a sea of red velvet. The bar deck is cool granite with nice wooden accents. It’s a nod to the roaring ’20s. The bathroom doors read “Gangsters” and “Doll Faces.”
It’s not a bad pairing with the art deco Cascade Theatre, which was originally built in the 1930s. Certainly the owners are hoping to catch patrons prior to and after Cascade shows.
When I stopped in for a drink following Monday’s Merle Haggard show, the place had a real solid crowd filling just about every table. The bar has a rich feel to it, and I was digging the soundtrack playing the Grateful Dead, Dylan and a few other of my favorite artists.
Burris has mentioned that Capone’s has attracted a variety of ages: a bit of an older crowd early, giving way to a mostly under-35 crowd later. So far it seems like the mission is to be a classy, laid-back kind of hang.
Burris mentioned that Capone’s may soon start serving appetizers from both the nearby Market St. Steakhouse and the Vintage Wine Bar. Market St. Steakhouse is the other venture by Burris and Kenny Breedlove. It’s really nice if they’re working with the Vintage.
There are only so many dollars that can be spread between drinking establishments downtown, and there’s a growing number of them. Capone’s has an excellent location and a great feel, so if it treats its patrons right, that’s three pistons of success firing at the same time.
The other pistons are probably a little more ambiguous. I’d describe them as the niche and feel/vibe of a place.
People are naturally attracted to good energy and it’s essential to have it around when you’re serving customers. Bad energy or arrogance wears people out in a hurry. Who knows how the vibe will play out at Capone’s.
I’ve seen other establishments in the North State bite the pavement hard after failing to realize they’re in the customer service business. Outside of belligerent drunks, you treat everyone with a pretty high degree of respect. It’s an honor that they came into your place. And being laid-back, relaxed and cool is a huge bonus.
Here are a few people who get that really well in my opinion: Mike Woodrum, the manager and bartender at Jack’s Grill; Janis Logan and Alex Gaxiola at the Vintage Wine Bar; Alan and Jana Leard at Vintner’s Cellar; Tom Poulson at the Post Office Saloon. There are others, but those are a few off the top of my head.
Anyway, as for niche, let’s quickly review the other downtown drinking establishments to see where Capone’s might fit in:
Vintage Wine Bar and Restaurant: Beautiful atmosphere with changing art shows. Consistent live music venue. Excellent dinners, wines and beers. Kind of writing the book on class right now.
Market St. Steakhouse: Gorgeous bar that works in a similar fashion to Jack’s. The place really has a good feel to it and the restaurant has a strong following.
Vintner’s Cellar: Big window out front of this classy wine bar that also does live music, art shows and has an excellent laid-back vibe. Good chunk of its business comes from customers who make their own wine on site.
Post Office Saloon: The “Cheers” of Redding. The oldest live music pub in town (Wednesdays and weekends). The bar has a strong local following and serves good burgers and other pub food.
Johnny’s Cathouse: They’re flying the Rebel flag high and the gals wear Coyote Ugly short shorts. A huge bar with live music on the weekends. Pool tables upstairs. Lots of flatscreens. You ready to party and get your drink on?
Jack’s Grill: The bar is typically a pause point before dinner (but not always). This is an old school Redding place written up in the New York Times. Woodrum is a made guy (if you want to put it in mob terms).
The Squire Room: The clientele has gone through some evolutions, but the place has long been synonymous with its legendary bartender, Frank Nazarirod. It’s typically a late-night stop and the dimly lit cave can sometimes be wild. The incredibly loud jukebox (with far too many options) has killed me lately.
Maritime Seafood and Grill: High-end restaurant has a classy bar. Washed in white. The place was popping last time I was there to see the Tony Armsdon jazz trio. Go say hello to the sweet owner Unni Song.
The Downtown Eatery: Serves dinner, beer and wine. Heavy live music scene with a variety of bands playing many nights a week. Often there are multiple-band nights. It’s a lot of music, but are the patrons buying enough food and beer to keep the place afloat?
Club 501: Traditionally a gay bar where plenty of straights frequent as well. A fun dance-party spot late at night. Jukebox runs the dance party. Let your freak flag fly. Don’t trip out.
Carnegies: Mostly an excellent lunch spot, but a pub three nights a week that used to rule Wednesday nights (it’s also open Thursday-Friday nights). It sometimes still rules Wednesdays.
Tapas Downtown: Full bar to complement the restaurant. Good drop-in bar. Newly expanded special events room. Co-owner Brad Tillson is a fun, knowledgeable guy who fits into the above category of understanding good customer service.
Bombays : I need help here, I haven’t been in in a long time. I know they occasionally still do live music.
Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. Did I forget anyplace? (I was concentrating on downtown, but I’m not sure what’s going on at the place that used to be Zippers.) I’d love to hear your opinions. Where do you like to go? Please, weigh in.