We'll Have Fun, Fun, Fun

Hurricane O'Malley's to Open April 18

By Paul Moffett

Don Blackburn and Ward Plauchet already own and operate two successful bars, Cliffhangers in Distillery Commons and Players Sports Bar and Grill on Bardstown Road. So why are they opening another bar downtown?

"We think there's a niche that's not being filled," noted Blackburn. He was standing in the midst of people sweeping up construction trash, electricians hanging neon, and two piano players rehearsing. The odor of curing polyurethane made breathing somewhat problematic. Opening day was just over twenty-four hours away.

The niche that Hurricane O'Malley's is designed to fill is that of a downtown piano bar catering first to convention traffic and second to local folks. The standard format of a piano bar has been modified at O'Malley's, however. Instead of the solo pianist tripping through "Melancholy Baby," this bar will have two pianos back to back, with two pianists ripping and tearing through familiar songs from the incredibly large catalog of popular American music, with the bulk of the tunes coming from the rock-'n'-roll era. They will be working very hard to get the audience involved, doing requests, oldies, and sing-alongs.

"We'll tell them what to play and generally when," said Blackburn. "We want the crowd to have a good time."

The pianists will play from 4 p.m. until 4.a.m. every night of the week except Sundays. when they will likely close at 2 a.m.

"We auditioned a lot of piano players for this job," Blackburn commented. One of the players they hired moved here from Indianapolis to take a job at the club.

The main room, with a seating capacity of 420, is set up in the round, with tables on progressively higher risers toward the walls, so that there will be no seats without a view of the performers. The dominant color motif is red and black, with a natural-wood bar. The layout allows for circulation, although it's not intended to be a "meat market,' according to Blackburn.

"People can meet other people," he said, "but that's not what Hurricane O'Malley's is all about. It's about having fun."

There will be a full bar every day except Sunday, when beer only will be served. Complimentary popcorn and peanuts will be served and happy hour buffets are in the works.

The bar is equipped with a wheelchair-accessible entrance. The restrooms are also wheelchair-accessible.

The partners are leaving little to chance. They will have free limo service to all the downtown hotels and are working to be on good terms with the hotels and staff, particularly the doormen. Flyers are being circulated and there has been considerable effort at garnering publicity.

"There are 6,000 people in town right now attending the Retreaders Association convention," said Blackburn. "We think they'll like this concept."