Jonas Rodriguez and his wife, Jenna, have had a lifelong dream of running their own business. A visit to Lafitte’s in New Orleans, one of the oldest bars in the United States, inspired them even more.
But that’s just the beginning of the story. The couple is from New Mexico, and Jonas used to work in the art department of the hit cable TV show “Breaking Bad.” After several years in show business, though, it was time to live out that other dream. Lafitte’s, which Jonas and Jenna have been to four times, played a key role.
“We want to bring a little of that to Olympia,” said Jonas, 31. He and his wife, who have friends in the area, visited Arts Walk last year and discovered vacant space in downtown on Capitol Way at Fifth Avenue. Planning began in January and they signed a lease in March. The result is Tipsy Piano Bar, which has set its grand opening for Thursday.
Tipsy Piano Bar’s vibe and mood are clear. The lights are dimmed, the candles are lit and someone will be on piano, playing songs of their own choice or by request. On the menu, Cajun, Creole and Southern-inspired bar bites, entrees and desserts, with hatch green chiles incorporated into meals and sauces, said Chef Joe Rubio, who has worked in the restaurant business for more than 30 years.
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“I feel that this is my swan song,” he said.
Diners can expect to find fish, shrimp and oysters on the menu, as well as hummingbird cake and buttermilk chess pie, as well as Olympia Farmers Market-driven specials every week, Rubio said.
The business also is working with a number of local vendors, including Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs of Lacey. Rubio said they will be carrying most of their product. Elsewhere at the bar, Tipsy will serve modern interpretations of classic drinks.
To prepare for the opening, Tipsy held what they called an “industry night,” inviting community leaders to experience the new destination, as well as to give staff a trial run.
Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby was among the guests. She said it felt as though she was in New Orleans’ French Quarter. And despite the high ceilings of the location, it still felt cozy. Her craft cocktail was “very tasty and refreshing,” and the tofu jambalaya was “quite good.”
“It will be a great addition to downtown,” Selby said.
Up next, the grand opening.
“It’s all set up, we just need to execute,” Rodriguez said.
Tipsy Piano Bar
- Location: 514 Capitol Way S., Olympia
- Owners: Jonas and Jenna Rodriguez; Jerry and Malissa Antonelli. Jonas called the Antonelli’s support instrumental.
- Years in business: New. Grand opening is Aug. 10.
- Employees: 14. Jeremy Hopkins is the general manager.
- Online: Find Tipsy Piano Bar on Facebook.
- Hours: 2 p.m. to midnight Mondays through Saturdays; 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
- Did you know? Working in the art department on TV series “Breaking Bad” meant that Jonas would set up the meth labs used by characters Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse Pinkman (Adam Paul).