'Homestyle food and homegrown music' on tap

Club 66 opens in Ashland with family friendly focus
Mike Ulizzi is co-owner and head chef of Club 66, a new restaurant and music venue opening in the old Stillwater building at 1951 Ashland Street.Jamie Lusch

Avacant nightclub and restaurant in south Ashland has been reborn as Club 66, thanks to radio DJ Wendy King and her partner, Mike "Uzi" Ulizzi.

The Ashland couple are revamping the space at 1951 Ashland Street into a family friendly club that supports local musicians and theater, they say.

The restaurant has undergone several remakes in the past decade, including as Stillwater in 2008-09 and Cebolla in 2011. Club 66 — Uzi's Underground Music Cafe is serving up "rustic Americana," King says, including burgers, pasta, salads and classic sandwiches such as meatball-pepperoncini-mozzarella, Philly steak and French dip.

Smaller bites for kids, such as hot dogs, grilled cheese, chicken strips and nachos, also are available and double as late-night bar food.

King and Ulizzi started leasing the 9,000-square-foot building on the corner of Ashland Street and Shamrock Lane in October and have made several modifications, with more planned.

"Yes, we're repainting over the purple, but we're not sure with what color yet," King says. "Everyone has said that it's horribly annoying."

King and Ulizzi have added a walk-up window to the kitchen, so that patrons can place their order without a waiter, and removed all the beer lines for the taps, which they say are difficult to keep clean.

The couple hope the changes will streamline operations and keep costs down.

Ulizzi, who is the head chef, has 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, including many positions in restaurants in the Rogue Valley in the 16 years he's lived here. Most recently, he worked at the Stop n' Shop market on Lithia Way making sandwiches.

King hosts a local music radio show called "Off the Hook" every Sunday on 96.9 FM. She's moved her home studio into the back room of Club 66 so she can do her radio show from there.

"It's homestyle food and homegrown music," King says. The two believe their experience in the service industry and familiarity with local musicians is a recipe for success.

King and Ulizzi say they can learn a lot from mistakes made by previous bar owners and are determined to run a fun, family friendly club that supports local musicians. A website will be up soon, but for now Club 66 has a page on Facebook.

Club 66's official opening was Friday. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Their liquor license is still pending, but King says they should be able to serve alcohol by Jan. 14. Only beer and wine will be available.

For now, the couple have a fully stocked cooler with bottled soft drinks and have hired a mobile bar service called Top Shelf To You to serve alcohol on nights when they have concerts.

Club 66 held a soft opening on New Year's Eve with an all-ages show and a DJ performance.

"The venue is available to rent out. I also see a lot of performance art happening here," says King, wanting to make good use of the large stage and sound booth inside. Admittedly, the acoustics in the room could be better, but she plans on adding curtains to improve the sound quality.

"I see plays and other musical theater happening here. We're going to put up a projector and do a movie night, too," she says.

Tonight, The Stamps will perform starting at 9 p.m., followed by Los Caballeros De Vam and Father Doug. Cover is $5.

Reach Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or by email at avalencia@mailtribune.com.


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