Play Us a Song, It’s a New Piano Bar
1626 Main Street’s space is undergoing a new transformation and will re-emerge on April 15 as The Venue. The gastropub and lounge will feature dueling pianos and an interactive live show which flows with the energy of the crowd on Friday and Saturday nights. With an upscale feel that evokes the prohibition era, the piano bar will add a new vibe to the growing nightlife options in Columbia’s burgeoning Main Street district. Whether it’s a little after dinner music, or an evening of singing loudly with friends, it’s easy to stop by and enjoy tunes from the piano players. “It adds to the diversity of entertainment we have downtown,” says Matt Kennell, president and CEO of the Main Street District. “I think it will bring more people downtown and to Main Street.
Crystal chandeliers, dazzling gold accents, and a mixture of small round tables with a set of long booths lining the side walls will make The Venue easily draw in crowds from Main Street. Those who want to experience the piano bar at a distance can sit farther back at the barside seats for a more relaxed ambiance.
The Venue offers seating with table service for cocktails and small plate options including classic Prohibition-era drinks like a French 75, juxtaposed with a more modern key lime pie martini, plus a selection of wines, domestic, and craft beers. Down the attached hallway is the Main Course. “The Main Course and The Venue are separated off so we are treating them as two different businesses,” says Jon Rooks, the Entertainment Marketing Director of LTC Hospitality Services.
Formerly, this space hosted hosted smaller musical acts, and has been through a few iterations to find its unique personality by hosting drag shows to small acoustic guitar shows. “That space has been through a lot of change,” says Rooks. “This room needed its own identity and we were trying to give a little bit of an upscale, chill vibe versus the rowdiness that can happen on the Main Stage at the Main Course”
Once inside the piano bar, it’s easy to see how dueling pianos have embraced modern technology, both to the benefit of the piano players and the audience. Songs can be requested by the traditional method of writing a song choice on a piece of paper and sliding it atop the piano with a few dollars, or try the new way — by sending electronic payment to the well-versed pianists. iPads with the words and notes for the singers perch atop the pianos to guide them through nearly any song you would want to hear. Audience participation is highly encouraged and adds to the fun and spontaneity of the evening, and on-key singing is not required!
Live piano bar shows run from 6-8 and 8-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursdays. The dueling pianos fire up on Friday and Saturday nights, plus First Thursdays from 8-11 p.m., with melodic tunes beginning as early as 6 p.m.