Blueprints for the late jazz bistro – Part I

Posted on Posted in Bulletins


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. It’s still there on a Google search — a zombie jazz club that folded nearly a year ago.

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 Part II — “Like a different planet…”)