As their press release so eloquently puts it, “2008’s ‘Best New Bar in Cincinnati’ slowly died three weeks ago, and no one seemed to notice. From being consistently full of thirsty bohemian patrons and hosting national up-and-coming bands (Vampire Weekend played a week before their debut on SNL) to a potted-plant-ridden empty mess—The Gypsy Hut’s rise and fall was about as meteoric as MC Hammer’s. … Luckily, two devoted Northsiders have been working feverishly to reopen and restore the bar to its former glory and more.”
And these two devoted Northsiders are Vanessa Barber and Kim Maurer (owner of Sidewinders).
They’re reclaiming and revamping the once-great dive bar The Gypsy Hut, stripping it of its tacky hippie tapestries and dead houseplants, to create Mayday, a vintage-inspired watering hole aimed at providing a supportive atmosphere for creatives to meet, get drunk and work (behind the bar, too). Look for local musicians Stuart MacKenzie of the Lions Rampant and Beth Harris of The Hiders to be pouring your booze, along with original Gypsy Hut bartender and local artist Paul Coors.
After recruiting volunteers from the neighborhood to restore, redecorate and rebrand the bar, they’re making sure that Mayday’s going to give that back. Basically you’ll be hanging out in Northside getting served by Northsiders sitting on furniture from Red Polly in Northside (which was reupholstered by Northsiders Helen Smith and Tori Kadish).
And to compliment all this local love, the two ladies are offering up some gourmet hot dogs (veggie dogs included) with homemade condiments from as many locally grown ingredients as they can get their hands on, and MacKenzie (the secret health nut…ask him about the evils of gluten) will be serving up organic, local craft cocktails during happy hour.
The grand re-opening is slated for 6 p.m. Oct. 24 with performances by the Lions Rampant, Oxford Cotton and Earthquakes (DJs Kendall Bruns and John Hogan). I e-mailed Barber and Maurer some questions to figure out more of what patrons can expect from Mayday, opening night and beyond.
CityBeat: Why did you decide to buy a bar?
Mayday: We both love Northside and wanted to see it flourish. A lot of people here seemed to be looking for something new and a bit different, including us. We decided to create it ourselves.
CB: How will Mayday be different from the Gypsy Hut? What will stay the same?
MD: I would say we put a bit more into thought into a theme, a vibe, a general mood that we wanted to create. It’s still accessible for the same kids that hung out at the Gypsy Hut. It’s still hip and arty, but maybe not so dingy.
CB: What kind of crowd do you think will enjoy this new incarnation of the Gypsy Hut?
MD: We’ve tried to create a space where anyone can hang out. We have a diverse staff, and we’ll have different themed nights that might end up attracting totally different people. But we want to keep it cool and true to Northside.
CB: Will there still be music? What kind? In the same space?
MD: Yes, there will be music. There will be bands and DJs. We’ll probably focus on the Rock scene primarily, but we’ll have tons of different events that aren’t necessarily “just shows” or “just dance nights.”
CB: What does "Mayday" mean? Why did you pick that name?
MD: It’s a little tough, it’s a little retro, it’s a little “I don’t give a fuck” and it’s a little classy. That is how our bar is going to be.
CB: And food?
MD: Yes. Gourmet hot dogs. Featuring local sausages, homemade relishes and condiments, gourmet toppings. We’ll be using as many local and fresh ingredients as possible. We’ll feature special sausages every week (think camel, bison, rattlesnake).
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