Musical Bars and Then Some. . . New Ones

By Paul Moffett

Changes of management and new openings are common enough in the bar scene in any city, but there have been a flurry of both in Louisville lately. Below is a not necessarily comprehensive list of changes, some of which will have an influence on the music scene.

Clifton's Pizza Company has opened in the building formerly occupied by Mesner's Hardware at 2230 Frankfort Avenue. Owners Jason Brauner and Mark Langley have been operating the pizza restaurant for about two months. Beginning almost as soon as they opened, they have had live acoustic music on weekends and have recently begun to have some live music on Wednesdays.

The building is only partially used, as Brauner and Langley are continuing some renovation on a larger room adjacent to the current dining area. They plan to have regular live acoustic acts when they get the space ready.

The dining area now in use has a small stage on which single performers sit and play, essentially unamplified. A recent Wednesday found Susanne Wood jamming with Frank Maguire and Bill Ede. A customer joined in on harmonica.

Behind the bar is the wooden back from the old Toll House on Frankfort. Brauner is pleased to have the antique and thinks that it fits in with the style of the building.

Hours at the restaurant are ll a.m. until midnight, Tuesdays through Thursday, ll a.m. until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information, call (502) 893-3730.

Night Visions in Middletown has opened in the building formerly occupied by the Sugar Shack. Manager Lynn Randall laughs at comments about the former occupants.

"I never was in here when it was the Sugar Shack," Randall noted, "but I sure do hear a lot about it."

The building has been completely renovated inside and out. Owner Charlie Basham hired Randall, who operated Terry Lin's in New Albany for many years, to manage the club. Randall thinks that it's a good location for a music club, primarily because of the population growth in the area.

As of press time, a transaction is under way at Night Visions to change ownership yet again. Further updates will be noted as the occasion warrants.

There has been a kind of chain reaction with several bars. It has all the appearances of late-Eighties real estate deal.

Brenda Wibbels, former owner of the Maple Inn, has bought the Sunset East Tavern at 11318 Bardstown Rd. Ms. Wibbels said that when the lease expired at the Maple Inn, the owner decided to make the site a SuperAmerica station. As a result, Wibbels decided to buy the building as well as the business where the Sunset is located.

The new Sunset East opens at 5 p.m. and is open until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Closing hours the rest of the week depend upon the crowd. Thursday night, they still have the DJ and the Spinning Wheel, a favorite with the regulars.

On Fridays, there will be live music, with emphasis on '50s, '60s and '70s classics, plus top 40. Other kinds of bands will be booked on occasion. Saturdays, the entertainment will again be by Djs. The bar has two pool tables upstairs, plus a ping-pong table on the outside deck, which has gotten good response. Ms. Wibbels says they have steel-tipped darts outside and electronic darts inside. The grill is still in business, so patrons can get a bite to eat. There is a $2 cover on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call (502)458-4646.

• Meanwhile, Pat Durbin, who owned the Sunset, bought the Sahara Club, 3606 Bardstown Road, in April. The Sahara will open at 3 p.m., with a newly inaugurated happy hour from 3 until 8 p.m., with specials. Durbin said they will be booking some of Louisville's best country bands, including Ron Peake and Open Country, the Mike Lunsford Band and the J. D. Black Band. Mondays and Tuesdays will feature DJs playing the records Durbin brought from the Sunset.

Wednesdays through Saturday they will have live music, with an enlarged dance floor for the light of foot. The dance floor has been nearly doubled in size, according to Durbin. A full kitchen is in the planning but will have to wait until the roof, which suffered serious leaks during the recent downpours, is paid for.

Leagues for darts and pool are being formed. Durbin is looking forward to building a successful business at the Sahara. For more information, call (502)454-7014.

The Desert Rose Inn on Outer Loop, near the Louisville Motor Speedway, is being run by Bob Geer, former manager of the Sahara. The Eddie Dee Express appears nightly. Wednesday and Thursday are two-step nights, with the Starmania talent contest on Wednesday. Starmania is a national contest with prizes ranging up to $100,000. The Desert Rose also has a weekly contest, with a prize of $100. For more information, call (%02) 368-1812.