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Five reasons you'll love the New Lamp Post
Steve Duquette always wanted to own a bar. His mother and sisters were bartenders, back when kids could hang out in such places, collecting change from the drunks, and it wasn’t that big of a deal. So, he literally grew up inside of bars.
When the chance came to take over the Lamp Post, a picture-perfect dive/sleaze spot on Divisadero and H St., he dropped everything — including his business at the time, Tower Dogs — and jumped. Duquette, along with co-owner Chuck Leonard opened a revamped Lamp Post Bar and Art Gallery, Dec. 19 and it’s quickly becoming the kind of musician/artist hang out they wanted it to be.
Here’s five things we love about the new Lamp Post.
1. The location
If you want a neighborhood to have any sense of “nightlife” you’re going to have a bunch of bars/clubs jammed into a small, centralized strip. That’s just the way of it. Think of the Tower District or downtown Visalia. Having another viable bar within the mural district (walking distance from Fulton 55, Iron Bird Cafe, Tokyo Garden) goes a long way in making the place feel like a community. The Lamp Post is working with Fulton 55 to share parking (and crowds one would think) during busy nights.
Sure, it's weird to not see Leonard and Duquette walking around the Tower District, but really, they just moved a couple blocks south. “Once we started spending time downtown ... it just grows on you,” says Leonard, who also recently moved into a house in the Lowell Neighborhood.
2. The decor
The Lamp Post is small, square-footage wise, really just a narrow walkway from the front door to back with a bar on one side and a few round tables on the other. The original decor of the place (everything in black or various shades there of) made the place seem tiny.
“We were going to make it just another sleaze dive bar, but then we got in here and saw it,” Duquette says. The previous owners had cleaned the place out. The only thing left was the bar. So that's the only thing that Duqutte and Leonard didn't change. They lightened the place up with some paint (white ceilings, a red wall up front, bright blue floors) and put in some retro '50s school-house chandeliers that had been hanging in the Laundry Room boutique before it moved. They had artists do wall murals and Duquette brought over the framed album art and rock posters he had up at Tower Dogs.
3. The art
To add to the decor, the bar also serves as an art-gallery of sorts, and is a stop on the monthly Art-and Jazz-Hop. Each month an artist will be on display and one hundred percent of the sales goes to the artists.
“Last month we sold a lot of art,” Leonard says.
There's also a mural in progress on the building's west side. Leonard put out a call for donations to help get it started, and 70 cans of paint were delivered. Whatever is left over will be donated back to help start another mural. "We're calling it 'paint it forward,' " he says.
4. The drinks
The focus here is on local. The bar carries five local brews on tap — including Three Monkeys, Sancha (from Riley's Brewing in Madera) and Full Circle Brewing Company (in case you don’t want to really go downtown to get your London Porter or Cluster Fuggle). They also have a selection of local wines.
The hipsters can still get their Pabst for $1 and ShockTop pints are only $2.
5. The music
The Lamp Post isn’t a club, it’s a bar. But it’s a bar run by people who love music and musicians and there’s a steady lineup of both live stuff and records — yes actual records. There’s a shelved wall in back that's lined with them. Wednesday is vinyl day. If you bring in your records, they’ll get played. You can even leave them at the bar as long as they’re marked with your name. Monday nights there’s an open mic — blues and funk with Miller/Burke and Thursday is a blues jam with Fernando Verdialez from the Santana tribute band Heavy Weather. The rest of the week is filled out with local and touring acts like Chico's Brass Hysteria. They'll be in town March 20.
"Anyone who hasn't seen them need to get down here," Leonard says.