When Laura Regan and her partners set to work building out Footlight, a new music venue in Ridgewood, they were struck by how little there was to do. The existing bar was already adorned with gorgeous art deco trim, and the concert area featured a perfect hardwood stage. But one thing was sorely lacking: soundproofing. There was some already installed—left over from the previous tenant Equinoxio, a bar—but Regan made it a priority to triple layer it.
Acute noise control is just one of the ways that Footlight hopes to do right by its neighbors in an area that's been inundated with many new bars and restaurants. "It’s really important to me that we’re a member of the community and not just a bar—not just a loud music venue," Regan said.
A musician herself, Regan and co-owner Gabriel Rodriguez began work on Footlight, which sits on the corner of Seneca Avenue and Harman Street, over a year ago. At that time, the plan was to create a space with a small neighborhood vibe; 13 months later, Footlight is poised to do just that. Regan plans to feature a calendar of almost exclusively local, emerging bands.
"We're looking to replace institutions we've lost in the recent years like Trash Bar and Cameo, places people were able to get a gig at regardless of how new or old they were," Regan said Wednesday. "We want to be the kind of place that gives opportunities to new music and new artists. Fill a void that’s growing faster and faster."
But Footlight will take the local programming one step further on Sundays, when it opens up its doors for a regular all-ages amateur open mic that will encourage Ridgewood kids to come in play, dance, try out comedy, or give a reading. Regan hopes to eventually host seminars on sound production, booking, and venue management with local high school and college students.
“I wanted to do something like that here because I feel that there’s not enough opportunities for kids to come and experience the arts in that way.”
Footlight will begin its soft opening Friday and feature regular business hours next week. Its Grand Opening is slated for July 22nd, with a music bill that includes Starlight Girls, BETS, The Teen Age, and Monograms. Beyond that, booking requests have been flooding in, and Footlight's music calendar is almost entirely filled through the end of summer.
Bar manager Steven Ploe has set up 12 tap lines in Footlight's front bar space and plans to maintain a strong focus on local breweries from the likes of Braven and Ommegang. "We’re just trying to keep it dive bar standards, with plenty of cans and bottles," Ploe said. "This is a shot and a beer kind of bar," he stressed, noting that cocktails won't get any more elaborate than Manhattans and martinis. Music-lovers will be able to snack on beef and vegetarian empanadas served at the bar, and Regan plans to keep a popcorn machine running nonstop, in addition to other snacks.
Bands will play at Footlight Wednesday through Sunday, with Sundays featuring the aforementioned amateur open mic, Mondays centered around an NYC Talent Show borrowed from Bowery Poetry Club, and comedy shows on Tuesday.
"We’re trying not to be just another bar opening up to compete with everyone, we want to meld with everyone," Regan said.
Footlight is located at 465 Seneca Avenue in Ridgewood, Queens // Open 7 days a week, noon - 2 a.m. // Facebook