BY Aayat Ali
In fall of 2016, Cosmic Charlie’s co-owners Mark Evans and John Tresaloni announced their music venue would close its doors at its popular location at the corner of Euclid and Woodland Avenue location and move to the growing National Avenue corridor. The grand opening was originally set for late October. After a few weeks of rescheduling concerts, and coordinating booked shows with alternate venues, Cosmic Charlie’s had their grand opening on December 1.
“Aesthetically, it’s going to be way more pleasant,” Evans says of the new location. “The property on Woodland [Avenue] is just really old…So the smell will be gone. The bathrooms will be actually inviting.”
The new venue on National features large glass garage doors and the production is expected to be “five times better than the old spot.”
“Our lease was up up and we could have renewed, but we felt like it was time to cater to our demographic,” said Evans. “We were located on campus, but we’ve never been a college bar. We’re focused on the art of live music.”
Rockabilly band Town Mountain was set to be the first concert for the new Cosmic Charlie’s during the last weekend of October, but was moved to Mirror Twin next door due to their main room not being ready for their original opening.
Where It Started
Cosmic Charlie’s replaced Lynagh’s Music Emporium and has been a staple of the Lexington music scene ever since — bringing acts like indie-darlings Foxygen, ex- The Office cast member Creed Bratton, and nationally recognized, Kentucky born southern rap group Nappy Roots to town. Known for their Sunday Service and Grateful Mondays, Evans says that the music at their new venue will be similar, but the bar will start opening up earlier in the day.
In 2008, Evans began booking shows and his success with Cosmic Charlie’s caught the eye of other major Kentucky-based media production companies. He began Holy Carp productions back in 2009 here in Lexington, focusing on bringing the live music scene back to the city. Earlier this year, Holy Carp partnered up with Louisville-based media production company Doppelgang Media to create conglomerate Vectortone Media. The company owns Cosmic Charlie’s, The Burl, Louisville’s Zanzabar, and other music venues.
Before Cosmic Charlie’s, Evans and Tresaloni owned The Fishtank on Euclid Avenue. Similar to Cosmic Charlie’s, The Fishtank Bar & Grill was home to plenty of live music and was a large part of Lexington nightlife. Since then, the pair have continued to bring memorable live music to the Lexington area and Cosmic Charlie’s is expected to quickly find its new voice in its new neighborhood.
Neighbors in the Neighborhood
The National Avenue Corridor, also known as the Warehouse Block owes much of its growth to a popular setting, adjacent to the railroad tracks off Winchester Road — it’s not quite downtown, but it is within walking distance to some of Lexington’s most sought after neighborhoods (including Kenwick and Bell Court).
Other downtown-adjacent corners like North Limestone, Jefferson Street and the Distillery District are heavily populated by locally-owned businesses. Events such as the No-Li monthly Night Market and the annual Jefferson Street Soiree help capitalize on the local movement. Also off of Winchester Road is the Delaware Avenue neighborhood that is growing with businesses like Pivot Brewing company (Lexington’s first cidery) and Lexington Pasta Garage. These corners of town have each developed anchors (like craft breweries and signature restaurants).
Another recent addition to the Warehouse Block is the Mirror Twin Brewery. This brewery is Lexington’s first with a twin draft system. For every beer they have on tap, another beer is featured that “mirrors” it. Each mirrored beer contain the same components of its “twin,” but contains one standout ingredient that sets itself apart.
This unique brewery is next door to Cosmic Charlie’s and will be partnering with the Rolling Oven, a distinctive pizza truck that features a large shipping container that has been transformed into a mobile kitchen complete with a wood-fired oven. Evans said that they will be partnering up with Mirror Twin in the future for block parties and other events.
Right around the corner from these distinctive businesses, the Warehouse Block is also home to “Breakout Games” on N. Ashland. The goal of Breakout Games is to allow visitors to solve puzzles, riddles and use clues to find their way out of a room in an hour. Each themed room is themed and gives a different experience each visit.
Local’s, which anchors Walton at Winchester Road at the railroad tracks, opened in 2015. Owners Billy Oakley and Seth Boyd have created a unique take on typical casual sports bars. Using only locally sourced ingredients and rooftop seating featuring daily specials, Local’s has created a name for itself in the Warehouse Block.
National Provisions (which included a patisserie, beer hall, and market and was lauded in the New York Times), closed recently, amid controversy, with former employees alleging bounced paychecks.
Although new tenants have not been announced for the prominent real estate, the National Avenue corner of Lexington is showing no signs of slowing down.
As far as the future of the Warehouse Block, Evans says he hopes to see continuing “vibrant and positive” businesses.
“[I’d like to see] different kinds of retail and business that’s locally owned. I like the aspect of local, positive business.”
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