Picture this: you’re out for an evening with your favorite someone looking for something else to do. The movie credits already rolled, and the dinner dishes are cleared away. What’s the third act for the night?
Jaime Watts says its her new bistro on School Street, The Rusted Mic.
“It’s a complement to all the other businesses in downtown,” said owner Watts.
There’s an iron replica microphone and music stand by the front patio entrance. Walk inside, and you’re greeted by vintage brass instruments, cafe tables, and a long lounge area with intimate dark wood tables and a cozy booth lining one entire wall. Geometric prints on the booth upholstery blend with the loops and curls on the antique curio cabinets.
The decor is set off by a pair of deep red accent walls. One, behind the stage, holds an LCD screen framed in gold to harken back to a Hollywood theater stage.
The effect brings forth a vintage entertainment, 1940’s jazz and blues lounge feel.
“It’s hard to explain it. You’ve got to get in here and feel it,” she said. “People want to be entertained, and it doesn’t get swankier than that era.”
Watts has planned the Mic, as it’s known among the employees, to be a hangout for any time of day.
“There will always be jazz, blues, piano music. Easy listening sounds,” she said. “I want it to be something people can relax to but still have a conversation.”
The bistro is open at 7 a.m. each day with a full espresso bar, fresh pastries, fruit, biscotti and granola. There is free wireless internet for a morning meeting or to catch up on work. For lunchtime, there are small plates like antipasto, smoked salmon or bruschetta. Or get a bowl of roasted red pepper and gouda bisque. Kitchen staff are happy to grill up a pesto chicken, three cheese or smoked salmon panini. Wine is sold by the glass, along with craft beers. For dessert, try the chocolate Zin cake or the affogato al cafe. That’s vanilla bean ice cream doused in three shots of hot espresso.
On Friday and Saturday nights, Watts is bringing in live entertainment. Think small bands, two or three pieces, or a piano player. There will also be comedy and open mic nights for local musicians and singers. During the performances, Watts plays black and white movies on silent behind the stage.
Watts, who used to work for, then run, the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership, said she’s brought her experience in working with the city forward to get this place open.
“I have a whole new respect for entrepreneurs and their business ventures,” she said.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.