Blueprints for the late jazz bistro – Part I

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Dead evening, cold drizzle on the little corner strip mall where Northumberland meets North Lombardy. The adult day care’s closed, so’s the Solid Rock Tabernacle of Faith. Just a few arrivals and departures over at the hair place.

Under the red sign of the late Union Bistro & Jazz — “Live jazz while you dine and feel fine!” — the wind stirs a couple of wet, half-furled flags and two hanging baskets of dead plants.

A white box van rolls in, ladders clamped on the roof. Jazz, pretty loud, comes out of the window and lifts the mood. The contractor Ian Baptiste, 54, co-owner of the Bistro, is here to tell me what befell his club, now missing from the live jazz music scene.

Spoiler alert: it was too much expense and not enough revenue. But the project’s two-plus years brought good times, occasionally great music, a couple of lessons learned. And it was a quest…one that began when the first Richmond space opened that used the word “jazz,” just about a century ago.

So there’s more to tell. ¬†(Go on to II — “Like a different planet…”)