Banjo Jim's is on the docket for Monday night's CB3/SLA meeting. Banjo Jim's opened in December 2005, and the small space quickly became a well-known spot for live (and inexpensive) Americana, bluegrass and jazz music.
Lisa Zwier-Croce named the space for her husband, the musician James Casmire Kaminski Croce (Banjo Jim), who died in a car accident in January 2003.
However, we understand that Lisa is moving on, and Rob Ceraso and his business partner hope to get the OK for the liquor-license transfer.
"The space has sentimental value to me," Ceraso said via email. "Not only have I been coming to Banjo's for bluegrass for the last five years, but my wife and I also celebrated our wedding across the street at La Plaza Cultural Garden four years ago ... with musicians that I met at Banjo's."
"We are calling ourselves an 'artisanal neighborhood cocktail bar,' which I know is a mouth full," only because I couldn't think of another label that necessarily fit what we'd like to create," Ceraso said. "Cocktail bar in the sense that we will offer beautifully rendered cocktails, putting care into ingredients and making as much as we can from scratch."
"Neighborhood bar in the sense that we are trying to do what we do with the same spirit of creativity mixed with a tinge of rebelliousness that has existed in the neighborhood for the last 60 years or more. We're not putting ourselves on [that] level, but if we can do our thing with the spirit of creativity that existed ... then that would be cool with us."
A few other details...
"We'd like to push the limits a little of what you can create with a small convection oven and a couple of induction cooktops," he said. "It will be a learning experience for us and I'm sure everything won't be awesome, but I can promise it will be interesting and made with care."
"We thought it would be great to be able to honor it with an occasional "Banjo Jim's" night of music. We're thinking of something weekly or monthly as well as possibly having some piano and fiddle, etc. for happy hour from time to time. Whatever we end up doing it will be pretty low-key. We would always plan it for earlier than later and we aren't getting any of the amplification equipment from Banjo's. All we're hoping to hang onto is the old piano."
"We love the block, the two gardens around us and the neighborhood. To us it embodies the same bohemian sensibilities that used to exist everywhere downtown. [Avenue] C seems like it's becoming the last refuge for everyone escaping the craziness and fratty takeover of the LES. We'd like to be part of that refuge and maybe help to remind people a little of what the spirit of the neighborhood still is to a lot of us."
"If we're doing our thing right, neighbors can come in and talk about and enjoy some food, drink, music and neighborhood culture."
[Banjo Jim's photo via Down Home Radio]