The Factory. Back Porch Alley. Callaloo Caribbean Kitchen. Plan B. Do you see a commonality? How about the location? 1212 N. State St. was home to each of those music-oriented businesses in recent history, and many have blamed the space’s lack of soundproofing for the demise of at least one of those.
But despite the location’s turbulent past, Hollie Huthman and her business partner, Marty Watson, plan to give the space an opportunity for redemption. On on March 17, they will open a new bar and music venue, called the Shakedown, in the 3,600-square-foot space.
Huthman isn’t too concerned about skeletons hiding in the closets of her new space. Since Plan B closed its doors in fall of 2010, two changes have occurred that should ease pressure on musicians and bar owners there: Insulation was recently added to the building’s ceiling, which separates the venue from the residential floors stacked above, and the city created an entertainment district where residents should reasonably expect to hear live music. The Shakedown is in that district.
“That made me feel a lot better about opening a music venue downtown,” Huthman said.
Huthman, who has been a part of the Bellingham music community since about 2003, said she has wanted to open a music venue since The 3B Tavern closed at the end of 2005.
Since then, “there has been a hole in the music scene for a venue of this size,” Huthman said.
The 3B was the last venue of a similar size ― 150-person capacity ― dedicated to live music, she said. Size and location were important factors in choosing the space, she said.
Huthman, who works as a consumer loan underwriter at Whatcom Educational Credit Union, had seriously considered buying the Nightlight Lounge, but said the space was bigger than she wanted and the price higher. Although she ultimately shied away from the Nightlight, the evaluation process she went through in making the final decision gave her a lesson in opening a business, she said.
“It was kind of like I went through graduate school with learning how to open a business,” Huthman said.
And when she learned the old Plan B space was an option for her venue, she was ready to go, she said. The space has a fully equipped kitchen, and has been used as a music venue for years, Huthman said. That meant she could open on a relatively small budget.
The kitchen will also be an important part of the business. Huthman hired the multi-talented Krissa Woiwood ― who is a chef when she’s not writing plays for the Idiom Theater ― to create a menu with a local-food focus. The food menu will include bánh mì Vietnamese sandwiches and pub fare one would expect, such as fries. Huthman also hopes to include vegetarian and gluten-free options. The drink menu includes spirits, beer and wine.
Those who are interested in The Shakedown but who aren’t interested in food or live music can distract themselves with the pool table in the upper part of the space.
The Shakedown will open with a green, but not envious, bang. The bar will open on St. Patrick’s Day and feature music by MacArra, 8 Hand Reel, and Peader MacMahon. The cost is $5 and the show will start at 8 p.m. The following night the music will continue with Dog Shredder, Harkonen, Lozen and Swayze.
The Shakedown is open everyday from 4 p.m. to 2 p.m. The full menu will be served until 9 p.m. and then a limited menu will be available. For more information, visit shakedownbellingham.com.