Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – Arcata’s venerable H Street watering hole/music club/cultural resource, The Jam (formerly the Jambalaya) is under new ownership and getting a top-to-bottom makeover, with the end result combining the best of its storied traditions with today’s expectations for a nightclub.
Recently purchased from Pete Ciotti by Mike Munson, the overhaul is being overseen by General Manager David Pate, who has an ambitious vision to unveil at the club’s mid-February opening.
Munson owns the AA Bar & Grill in Eureka, and Pate is fresh from working at the Benbow Historic Inn.
Restoring The Jam to its full potential is starting with demolition and reconstruction. The leaning bar and failing floor beneath it are being replaced, as are all the stools, tables and chairs. And get this: the original Jambalaya bar top has been recovered from a barn, and will be re-installed.
The former DJ booth along the south side has been ripped out. Walls will be festooned with numerous huge flatscreens, in order to stream everything from music to sporting events.
But fear not – the bar’s priceless, iconic mural of jazz musicians is staying.
A screen in the front window will replace the shabby-looking, condensation-sodden fliers to advertise upcoming events plus food and drink specials.
Performing musicians will appreciate the all-new flying PA with gut-punching subwoofers as well as all-new lighting.
“We like all the bells and whistles,” Pate said.
The PA will be exercised by themed music nights. Monday will be an open mic night, while Pate is looking at creating a locals night on Tuesday, featuring area musicians and locally crafted beers. A swing band might be booked, and dance lessons offered.
Wednesday might feature rotating offerings, including comedy. Thursday could be a Karaoke night, while Friday is DJ Night with DJ Marjo Lak.
Weekends will feature local music. “We’re finding out ways to be part of the community,” Pate said.
A chef/kitchen manager has been hired and is formulating a hearty menu of “pub-ish” food. This will feature “nice, juicy, fat burgers” among other comforting cuisine.
Munson fondly recalls The Jam’s 1980s vibe, and has set that as a benchmark. “We’re just really excited to be bringing it back,” he said. “Response from the local community has been overwhelmingly terrific.”
He said musicians who used to perform there have been in touch, and will help to bring “a wider genre of music.”
“We want to carve a wide path – for college kids and the Eureka, McKinleyville and Fortuna crowd too,” he said.