BURLINGTON — The owners of Mr. Mikes in Burlington recently opened SideBar, a new bar and music venue next door to the pizza eatery’s Main Street location.
It’s located between Mr. Mikes and Mirabelle’s Café, in space most recently occupied by Catalyst Design. Owners Aaron Chiaravelotti and Boudee Luangrath plan a heavy focus on music, along with a full bar featuring craft beers, ciders and wine, as well as cocktails.
“At Mr. Mikes, we’ve always wanted to do live music but just didn’t have the space for it,” said Chiaravelotti. “When this space became available we saw an opportunity and jumped on it. We thought it could be a great venue with a great vibe. The bar is a draw, but the music is also a draw. We think we’re creating a win-win situation.”
SideBar offers 20 taps, emphasizing Vermont craft beers and ciders, but also maintaining a strong rotation of regional brews. The drink menu also boasts a strong selection of wines, and bottled and canned beers, and lists eight signature cocktails and eight signature martinis.
“We give our bartenders a lot of room to work collaboratively and create their own drinks, too,” Chiaravelotti said. “I reprint the drink menu regularly.”
Chiaravelotti called SideBar a “sister” to Mr. Mikes. A sliding barn door between the two businesses can be opened to allow people to pass easily between the two to get food or listen to a show. For now, Mr. Mikes provides all the food — including the ability to cater private events in SideBar — though a menu featuring a number of small plates, special salads, and perhaps a flatbread-style pizza, is being developed for the new business.
As for music, Chiaravelotti said the bookings will be varied, from singer/songwriters and acoustic acts to full-band shows. SideBar occupies about 1,500 square feet and has a maximum capacity of 103 patrons. A flexible approach to room configuration offers the business a host of options.
“We won’t be looking to max-out each show,” Chiaravelotti said. “For singer/songwriters, (we) might have more tables, and keep it as a listening room. For a full band, we might clear the tables and open it up for a full-blown concert.”
For now, SideBar is not charging a cover, though the owners said that could change for some acts or special events.
“The goal is to get a lot of local and other live music in here, and provide a place for talented musicians to share what they can do,” Chiaravelotti said.
Luangrath has experience working at other music venues, and emphasized a commitment to excellent sound for both audience and performers. He said SideBar invested in excellent audio equipment, a sound booth, and extensive acoustic treatments on the ceiling.
The space itself offers both a rustic and industrial feel, according to Chiaravelotti. “There’s a lot of reclaimed Vermont wood throughout — including tables, doors, booth sides and the ceiling.”
A centerpiece of the decor is a large mural painted by Caitlin Plumer, who also now works as a bartender at SideBar. “Caitlin came in for interview and we found out she did murals,” Luangrath said. “We gave her free rein, and she created a mural with 30 song references within it. Watching it happen was amazing.”
Prior to its previous tenant, Chiaravelotti noted, the building once housed Burlington Guitar & Amp and Calliope Music. “It’s kind of cool to bring it back full circle to music,” he said.
“We think SideBar provides an upscale feel, a calm, relaxed vibe, all with a focus on live music, the community, and providing great drinks and great service,” Chiaravelotti said.
SideBar is located at 202 Main Street in Burlington. Hours are 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. The website is under development at www.sidebarvt.com.