Can you dig?
Square Bar, a 1970s-themed bar and performance space, has just opened in New Orleans Square, 900 Karen Ave., at the south end of the Commercial Center.
New Orleans Square features Big Easy-style wrought-iron railings and is home to a wildly quirky mix of small businesses: a youth orchestra, a B-movie theater, salvage centers, a collectibles purveyor horror, art galleries, a cafe, a barber shop cutting $10 haircuts, a Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence outpost, and about four dozen others.
square bar fits perfectly.
And that was the goal, said Eric Gladstone, director of The Feast of Friends, who came on board to help develop Square Bar after the Las Vegas Lounge, the former tenant, closed at the start of the pandemic.
“I felt there was all this nostalgia for the 70s. In the heart of COVID, when it felt like the world was falling apart, wouldn’t it be great to create a place where you could escape and come back at a time when the biggest issue was who you were going to go home with at night?”
Showing your stripes, somehow
Renovations took about a year to Square Bar, which consists of a large bar, lounge, and dining room with a stage. Earth-toned intertwining stripes — part strip, part circuit, part schematic — run through the walls and floor, invoking (not just quoting) the horizontal stripes of ’70s design.
Nancy Good, the artist-in-residence at Square Bar and gallery owner at New Orleans Square, painted the stripes, along with a bathroom mural of biomorphic ribbons with shiny patterns (evoking tangled tentacles) that shimmer in the light. black.
“I grew up in the ’70s, but I didn’t want to have this very dated retro look,” Good said of his artistic approach to the project. “I wanted to have something that recognized and gave an appreciative nod to the 70s while taking it to a more contemporary, clean urban feel that wouldn’t get dated very quickly.”
Also of note, design-wise: amber glass globe light fixtures hanging above the living room, from that time in the 70s when interiors looked to Spain for inspiration (if not always for inspiration). ‘authenticity).
Groovy, not kitsch
When tapping into the look (and food and drink) of the 1970s, often seen as the time that taste has forgotten, there’s always the challenge of balancing easy kitsch with informed groove. You want to nod (and wink), but you don’t want to go overboard; you don’t want silly. (The Square Bar, after all, exists in 2022.)
“It’s tricky with nostalgia because you can go to the most superficial elements of an era, the plastic lunchbox version of history,” Gladstone said. “We avoid kitschy stuff, but there’s no specific category of anything that’s forbidden here. A bit of everything, but you’ll get the good stuff.
“We want you to feel like you’re back in the 1970s, but with the advancements we have now. You can charge your phone.
The ’70s, he added, also saw the final blossoming of Old Vegas, of “iconic Vegas as Vegas, and that’s something we wanted to celebrate.”
Put your touch on the menu
Francisco J. Alvarez, former executive chef of Madero Street Tacos and downtown El Gallo, is chef de partie (his business card reads) at Square Bar. The menu includes ’70s standards, he said, without wholesale resurrecting them (so, alas, no jellied eggs).
“The reason I came here was because I had the opportunity to create something from another era, but to put my own spin on it,” the chef said.
Look for a three-cheese fondue with bread cubes, for example, or a platter of meatballs; a pan-fried bologna sandwich with Lay’s crisps or Spam bites and bacon or dogs; lemon meringue pie or fried apple pie at McDonald’s (whose chain introduced the Apple Pie Tree character in the 1970s.)
Elsewhere on the menu, you might find a breakfast burrito (a downtown Alvarez specialty), Chinese chicken wraps, fish and chips (with an update on taro chips), fashionable pancakes or a charcuterie board (with a unique twist).
The cocktail menu includes this 70s twist, revisited with modern spirits (so, thank goodness, no Wolfschmidt vodka). On the program: a Pink Pussycat, a Rusty Nail, a Harvey Wallbanger and a cocktail for each sign of the zodiac.
Inspired by cabarets and floor shows
Phil Kotler is the Square Bar’s entertainment and events manager. He is a longtime leader of the Vegas improv and comedy community who performs weekly with Bleach, a comedy group, at Vegas Theater Company in the Arts District.
Kotler said he will bring a mix of entertainment to the stage: stand-up, burlesque, live music, Coco Bongo-inspired performances and more. The entertainment program, he said, “is our take on classic ’70s cabaret and floor shows.”
So at the Square bar: a pot of fondue, a Pink Pussycat and a show.
Can you dig?