A new music venue housed in an old steakhouse and dive bar hopes to bring back the ghosts of Uptown past starting just after Christmas.
Mortimer’s, located on the corner of Lyndale and Franklin avenues, was recently taken over by the proprietors of Nightingale restaurant, who agreed to turn one side of the old nighttime hangout into a small music room modeled after the Uptown Bar & Grill and Cause Spirits & Soundbar, two venues lost to gentrification of the area over the past eight years.
“We don’t have a music venue like this in Uptown anymore, and I think people really miss that,” said Alex Walsh, a former Cause manager who is helming the music space alongside musician and former Uptown Bar talent booker Brian McDonough.
The first gig at Mortimer’s is scheduled for Dec. 27, and it reeks of nostalgia for the Uptown Bar: Hard-rock freak unit Likehell will reunite for the occasion, a birthday salute to longtime Uptown Bar doorman Ron Upton, who died in February. Iguano and Trim Reaper will also play that night.
Mortimer’s will then host a MXMW (Morts by Morts West) opening weekend bash with the Blood Shot, Whale in the Thames and more Dec. 28, then the Rope, Temple and others Dec. 29. For New Year’s Eve, the venue will welcome Cause regulars BNLX with Cult of Lip.
While the venue will only hold about 150 people at most — exact capacity will be determined after these first few shows — McDonough sees that as a positive.
“It’s mainly for the bands who want to play more than once a month or so, and can’t fill the bigger rooms playing that often,” he said.
A new stage and sound system are being installed in time for the opening. A lot of the late-’70s features of the room are being cleaned up but left in place, including stained-glass ceiling fixtures and leather booths. “It looks like the kind of place Starsky and Hutch might walk into,” McDonough bragged.
The other side of Mortimer’s will maintain its sporty dive-bar look of old, with pinball and foosball tables, but the Nightingale team will debut a new food menu there in mid-January.
There will be limited parking available in the Wedge Co-op’s neighboring lot after 9 p.m. for the music gigs, plus there are ample biking and transit options at such a bustling intersection.