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Business/Money

February 9, 2007

Career musicians to open Speakeasy in New Albany

Next on downtown New Albany’s set list: “Speakeasy,” a little jazz number.

East End residents Brad and Lori Tharp have leased a former antique store on State Street between Main and Market streets. By late spring, they plan to open a restaurant and bar and host jazz performances on a near-daily basis.

Speakeasy will be the first jazz club they’ve managed, although “we’ve played in a lot of them,” Brad Tharp said Thursday. He plays trumpet, she’s a pianist and both teach music, Brad privately and Lori in a Pekin school.

The couple conceived the business model five years ago, only recently deciding to add the food element — chef Kevin Crum and his Cajun and Creole specialties came recommended by Dave Clancy, owner of Bistro New Albany, Tharp said.

After the weekly newspaper LEO edged them out a year ago for a building off Louisville’s Theater Square, the Tharps connected with Mike Kopp, a real estate broker who has catalyzed several commercial deals in downtown New Albany. They found 225 and 223 State St., a three-story building erected in 1860.

“We feel this is a better situation,” Tharp said. “And the downtown area is historic.”

Owner Steve Resch snapped up the vacant property and its two-foot-thick brick walls in September with designs on renovating and leasing the 6,000-square-foot first floor to a restaurateur.

“I’ve always like the way it looked,” said Resch, who also owns an industrial property near the Tharps’ home. “The building’s got a lot of character.”

Resch began “painting the ceiling, redoing the floor, putting in all-new trim.” The building’s structure is solid, and the second floor needs even less cosmetic help, Resch said, so he hopes to lease that eventually as well.

But the first floor will be all Speakeasy: restaurant and stage on the south side, bar and lounge on the north.

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