PAWCATUCK — A new supper and dance club will open this week on the site of the former Fuji Gardens and Rosalini’s at 215 Liberty St.
The Phoenix, a 10,000-square-foot, 307-seat dining and entertainment venue, will have its ribbon-cutting today at 4:30 p.m., a soft opening with a half-price menu on Thursday at 5 p.m., and its official opening on Friday night. The doors will open at 5 p.m. Friday and Red Light, a four-piece modern and classical dance party rock band, will perform.
“It was a big gamble to get the building up and running,” co-owner Richard Mann, of Westerly, said Monday morning. Mann and co-owner Larry Shore, of Ashaway, bought the 3.36-acre property and building, constructed in 1983, for $400,000 in June and have done nearly all of the renovation work themselves. “We had to outfit it with everything. Basically everything in here came from restaurant auctions.”
The main space, a sprawling open room with several seating areas, a sunken dance floor, two bars and an elevated stage, has been fitted with a mix of sparkly chandeliers and geometric light fixtures, retro-inspired posters and music memorabilia.
“The idea is you come in here to come here with your date to have a really good meal, to have really good service and to see really good shows and still be able to home where you can get up and go to work the next morning,” Mann said.
The idea is a “one-stop” evening that has everything from good food to great entertainment, he said.
“Most restaurants want to flip tables — they want you in there and out of there — but here, you're coming in for the evening,” he said. “You eat, and the food gets cleared away. You can relax, get up and dance to your favorite songs, and the bands are excited to play here because they’re showcased on a 40-foot, elevated stage.”
The building also has a new function room and art gallery, which Mann has filled with couches and comfortable chairs. The art on the walls will change monthly. Artist Ted Genard, of Uncasville, is featured in April.
“You can rent this room for birthdays and private functions, it has a private entrance,” Mann said, seated at a long table in the art gallery. “This will also function as a green room for the good bands. They will have this room for their own private dining room and a meet-and-greet space before or after shows.”
Mann has hired Chef Eric Marrish, of Putnam, a 1990 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, who has designed a menu of “modern American” food that will feature thematic specials reflective of the music each evening.
“Like if we get a country band we’ll do smoked ribs,” said Marrish, who was preparing the kitchen on Monday.
Dinner will be served from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, with lighter fare available from 8 to 11 p.m. On Saturdays, the venue will be open at noon for lunch and Sundays will feature brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Outdoors, Phoenix will also have cornhole, horseshoes and volleyball as well as a dining area. Mann said he is also considering creating an outdoor wedding venue in back of the building.
Variety will be a constant in the Phoenix schedule, he said. Tuesdays will feature country line-dancing and a car show. Wednesdays could be Motown, disco, reggae or even comedy. Thursdays will feature “good local bands” and Fridays will showcase cover bands. Saturdays will feature tribute bands or national acts and Sundays will be blues night from 6 to 9 p.m.
Mann said he wants to enhance the area’s offerings in food and entertainment rather than compete with other restaurants and music venues.
“We don’t want to take away anyone’s business. We want Westerly-Stonington to be a destination place for fine dining, good food and entertainment,” he said.
Mann said he has other ideas he will explore, such as a cooking show featuring members of visiting bands learning to cook with local chefs and food purveyors like fishermen and farmers.
Ali Kaufman, music manager for the Phoenix, said the space will offer a more upscale atmosphere than bars.
“We are a supper club rather than just being a bar, we have a hard cutoff at 11 p.m.,” she said. “We want to hearken back to a time when you come in, you enjoy a great meal, and one night you might see a party band and the next night you might get a Motown band with a full horn section or a national act passing through.”
For more information, call the Phoenix at 833-346-3888.