The other half of Blue Smoke
Posted 15 January 2003 - 08:12 AM
Anyways . . . it hadn't occurred to me until then what an important part of the whole Blue Smoke concept the downstairs Jazz club is. I think this is a point that foodie/gourmet/fanatic types like me and the eGullet crowd are prone to overlook. First of all, let me say the acoustics are terrific. I'm no expert, but I'm very picky about performance-space acoustics and I can't recall a better sound anywhere. So crisp. And the performers really seemed to appreciate the venue. Second, I'd love to hear the story of how you became a restaurateur/Jazz-club-owner. What's the chronology of how you chose to branch out this way? Are you a Jazz lover? Was it just that there was a preexisting club? What the heck did you do to get the sound up to that standard (it was not that way when the space was part of 27 Standard, on that point I'm certain)? What's the menu down there? Can I get all the upstairs stuff? Tell all.
Oh, and thanks for joining us for this Q&A!
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, email@example.com
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)
Posted 15 January 2003 - 09:17 PM
First things first:
As I wrote on an earlier post, it was saving the Jazz Standard that made me want to do Blue Smoke in this space -- which was previously my cousin James Polsky's 27 Standard/Jazz Standard. I was a minor investor in his restaurant and jazz club, and admired what he had created. i never thought 27 Standardwas a good fit for jazz, but I loved the club.
I'm a longtime jazz buff, having been a jazz DJ in college, and having spent many a weekend getting to know New York at places like the Cookery, Bradley's, Sweet Basil, Blue Note, Knickerbocker, etc. It was jazz that convinced me to do barbecue, and barbecue that convinced me to hang in there with the jazz club.
Though we had hoped to leave the original Jazz Standard alone (and save some money) we ended up reworking the interior to make it more intimate (more like Wrigley Field and less like a bowling alley) and did lots of work with the sound system, mainly working with Sam Berkow -- a wonderfully talented guy. We did keep the original bar, which is a jewel and a terrific place to hang out with a pint while you're listening to music.
We're challenging some jazz club "givens": we have two sets on weeknights, both early -- 7:30 and 9:30. Our cover charges are fair. There is no food and beverage minimum, but the bulk of the Blue Smoke barbecue menu is available in the club. Including the Blue Smoke Burger.
Here's the bottom line: Jazz and Barbecue are pure expressions of American culture that have a lot to do with how our people improvise to express freedom. They were born together along and around the Mississippi, and they belong and go well together still. I feel good whenever I'm eating good barbecue and whenever I'm listening to soulful jazz.
Finally, we've worked hard to hire musicians the same way we hire chefs. While there are lots of talented chefs and musicians who are virtuosos in the kitchen and on the stage, respectively, we want folks who cook and who play for your pleasure. Next time you go to Jazz Standard, just watch how the musicians and audience (and our staff) communicate joy back and forth!