There's been buzz circulating for months that Justin Cucci, the owner/chef of Linger and Root Down (and, at some point, a second Root Down at DIA), had his clever hands in another project, and now we can confirm exactly what that is: Cucci will open a bar, restaurant and live music venue, currently operating under the name Chain Lightning (although that's a DBA name that will likely change) in the spring or summer of 2013 in the former Diamond Lil's Adult Emporium, the street level quarters of a four-story historic building, located at 1215 20th Street, that was built in 1899 and originally housed Kopper's Hotel and Saloon.
Cucci, a self-described Steely Dan fan, named the joint's "working" title after one of the band's songs, although Cucci, too, plays guitar in a group called the Chest Rockwell Band, and it's his passion for music that inspired him to seek out a venue where he could manifest that enthusiasm. He's quick to point out, however, that Chain Lightning is, first and foremost, a restaurant.
"The restaurant will be the focus with music serving as an exclamation point," says Cucci, adding that the 7,000-square-foot space, walled with weathered brick, personifies "death (Linger), gasoline (Root Down) and sex." These, he quips, "are the fringe necessities everyone is involved in, and with the building's sordid, sex-riddled past, it was the perfect spot to complete our trifecta."
He's still in the beginning planning stages, but notes that he'll host live bands and have "a really cool jukebox with great music." And his own band, steeped in funk, disco, soul and '80s covers, may even take the stage. "Music is important to me, and I really wanted to incorporate it into a restaurant and bar, and who knows? We may even play there," teases Cucci, who has a liquor-license hearing on August 22 with the Department of Excise and Licenses.
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And then, if all goes well, it's full steam ahead. "I've been thinking about doing a project like this for six months, and found an ideal venue to do it," concludes Cucci.