EAST VILLAGE — A new East Village bar will pay homage to old Southern "juke joints" where black patrons gathered to eat, drink and dance when they were banned from whites-only establishments.
Juke Bar, at 196 Second Ave., will feature DJ's spinning different genres each night, including jazz, blues and R&B, and will serve small plates inspired by Southern cooking. The owners are currently fitting out the former Blue Owl Cocktail Room, a below-grade space between East 12th and East 13th streets, and are aiming for a September opening.
"Historically juke joints were where my people could go and drink and play music," said Juke Bar co-owner Daniel Glover, 38, whose mother is French Armenian and whose father is an African American from South Carolina. "They were these dark places, but with a lot of life."
While juke joints were also places known for gambling and prostitution, Juke Bar will focus on the positive side of the ramshackle establishments that sprouted up as early as the 1800s.
"It is just celebrating some of the aspects of juke joints," said Glover, who is also a firefighter assigned to Engine 80 in Harlem and does some DJ work on the side.
The new bar's menu will feature small plates of pulled pork sandwiches, mac and cheese, deviled eggs and seafood dishes, according to co-owner Mike Derry.
Drinks at the bar will include six craft beers on tap, a liquor cabinet that focuses on local distilleries and a specialty cocktail list that is still in the works, Derry said.
"There will be a lot [of cocktails] with a whisky base," he said, "but definitely something for everyone."