If you weren’t able to get to the Mercury Bar before it’s previously announced closure on Halloween, you’re in luck — the bar’s anti-First Friday party will take place as planned, with performances by The Knumbskulls, Junkies Runnin Dry, Beach Boy Golf Pro, Animal Mother and Pressure Down Sounds.
FFF: GHOST TOWN
Presented by Jet Setter Productions
» Where: Mercury Bar, 1154 Fort Street Mall
» When: 9 p.m. Friday
» Cost: $5
» Info: Facebook.com
“We’ll be open for First Friday as Mercury Bar,” new owner Joshua Hancock confirmed on Thursday. “Then we’ll close for a few weeks.”
Hancock and his business partner, Serena Hashimoto, have stepped in as majority owners of the Mercury Bar. Anthony Karl, who bought the bar from original owner Andrew Bugreyev, will continue to have an ownership interest, but it will be the duo who opened Downbeat Diner and Lounge on Hotel Street who run things on Chaplain Lane from here on out.
That also means on Dec. 1, the space will officially become Proof Public House after more than a decade as the Mercury Bar. Think pool, pizza and beer — all the necessary elements for a relaxing place to hang with friends away from crowds elsewhere in Chinatown.
Proof also refers to the strength of the alcohol they’ll serve, the process of change as it relates to pizza dough, and the authenticity of a venue that speaks truth to the Chinatown lifestyle with ownership who both live and work in the neighborhood.
Hancock answered a few questions about Proof, including an explanation as to why the new pub will not offer live music.
STAR-ADVERTISER: What is the concept behind Proof?
JOSHUA HANCOCK: A public house is actually the long name for a pub in Europe. It was used to denote a home that the public could come to and try home-brewed beers. This was during the early era of small beer brewing in Europe.
Proof is going to be kind of a throwback to the original concept of a public house. We’re planning on having pizza as well as cheap beer. Our main plan is to take out the stage and put in a pool table, open the windows up and change some of the aesthetics to make the room more inviting. We want to go from a club feel to a more open-air feel that’s inviting to the public.
Upstairs will be rented out for private parities and we’ll offer karaoke.
SA: Will Proof be another Downbeat Diner?
JH: It’s really going to be more of a pub vibe. Unlike Downbeat Diner and Lounge where the diner is a little more formal with a full menu and the lounge is a bar with a venue space, Proof will be a different option.
We’re just trying to fill a niche. We want to be affordable, accessible, casual, not fancy. A place to drink cheap beer and socialize.
SA: Do you plan to continue offering live music?
JH: We’re not doing live music. Downbeat has absorbed most of the customers who went to Mercury to see bands play.
At Proof, we wanted to offer a place where they could shoot pool. A more causal environment to get out of the hustle and bustle of the clubs and restaurants. And cheap beer, of course.
SA: Which is more fun, playing music or running a business?
JH: Music will always be my first love, for sure. It’s more therapy for me than anything.
For me and Serena, we do this to support what we’re already doing in the music scene. At Downbeat, we provide a place to eat late at night and see shows. With Proof, we asked ourselves, “Where can we go to shoot pool? Where can we go to hang out and have a beer?”
The businesses that have been doing well in Chinatown are the ones with the owners actively in charge … so I’ll be everywhere. We’ll have some management (at Proof), so hopefully I’ll be spending most of my time at Downbeat, which is the bigger operation. But I’ll be back and forth.
SA: Any plans for further expansion? Would you consider opening a bar outside Chinatown?
JH: I loved the Mercury Bar ever since I first went there more than a decade ago. To be able to take over a business that’s established and have so many good memories feels good.
We’ll probably stick with Chinatown. We’re comfortable here and have great relationships with other businesses. And there’s still plenty of potential. I think the neighborhood matches our interests with its history and architecture and blend of personalities who come down here.
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter and Google+.