By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
Welcome to the Captain’s Lounge.
That’s the name of the venue that will provide a one-of-a-kind experience in downtown Somerset soon — and if all goes well for its owners, by the end of this week.
Anyone who’s noticed the work going on inside J. Gumbo’s Cajun and Creole Cookin’ on South Main Street has seen the roots of the Captain’s Lounge taking shape — the muilti-hued lights, the expensive-looking equipment. It’s all part of the process of bringing Somerset’s first real bar since the age of Prohibition nearly a century earlier to reality.
Bryan Wayne Perry of the Perry Music Group in Nashville, Tenn., is helping spearhead this project, which is also unique within the Kentucky-based J. Gumbo’s chain, which has restaurants in nine different states. He’s serving as the branding consultant, and is proud of the product he’s helped build with local franchise operators Jay Patel and Jason Hinshaw.
“(Patel and Hinshaw) had a vision; I took their vision and took it on a different turn and created what we have here now,” said Perry. “The vision is, we’re surrounded by Lake Cumberland. Who drives the boats on the lake? The captain. The captain drives the shrimp boats and crawfish boats down in New Orleans the same way they do on Lake Cumberland, so I thought it would be a perfect name to go with the environment we’re surrounded by.”
The new bar — though Perry notes that it’s considered to be more of a “live music experience” — is decked out with comfy couches, RGB LED lights, live Internet streaming capabilities, and plenty of big-screen TV screens — including one that will broadcast outward toward the street, showing what’s going on inside. Perry said that the Captain’s Lounge has “the best sound equipment within 300 miles” of Somerset.
In keeping with the theme 14 specialty drinks by the Captain Morgan rum and 300 by Absolut vodka brands — “mixed to perfection so they not only taste good but look good,” said Perry. The restaurant will be open just adjacent to the live music setting with new finger foods available — Perry suggested everyone will want to try the “Gator Fingers.”
This became possible after Somerset citizens voted to go “wet,” legalizing the sale of alcohol, back in June. J. Gumbo’s has been open for a year now downtown, but this is the kind of idea that Patel had in his head all along, he said, with work on the specific plans beginning in October.
While most other restaurants in town applying for liquor licenses are out on U.S. 27, this type of restaurant and bar dining experience will be a completely new thing for downtown Somerset, which has virtually nothing in the way of nightlife so far. Perry said they’re hoping to reach a demographic of young urban professionals all the way up to those around age 75, with a vision of a “high-end establishment for the downtown sophisticated corporate people of Somerset” where they can go and wind down after work.
The restaurant is working on crossing the final T’s and dotting the final I’s for its liquor license, and Perry said the city has gotten tons of feedback so far about what’s going on at J. Gumbo’s. Perry and Patel hope to have the license in place by Friday, when local artists Pearlie Jenkins, Jonathan New, and Cory White are scheduled to perform.
It’s that kind of “high-caliber local music talent,” as well as other established artists from the Nashville area, that Perry is planning to help bring in to the Captain’s Lounge, making it one of the premier live music venues in this part of the state.
It will also serve as a model for other restaurants in the J. Gumbo’s chain, said Perry, meaning Somerset’s recent changes in alcohol law will have ripple affects for local economies all around the country.
“The future of J. Gumbo’s is to intertwine the Captain’s Lounge trademark and brand with Mr. Patel’s involvement with J. Gumbo’s as a franchise owner and corporate leader,” said Perry. “We are putting all this together for the rest of the J. Gumbo’s (chain).
“This is something not a lot of other venues in town will be able to achieve,” he added. “This is bar one; there are many more to come.”