- Front Porch
MERIDEN — The former Club Synergy, then Club Level, at 16 Colony St. is now called The Reserve, but don’t call it a nightclub.
The Reserve, a play on the building’s history as a former bank, boasts a performance stage and venue big enough to accommodate crowds as large as those found at Toad’s Place in New Haven.
Reserve’s new owners see it as a destination spot drawing live bands from throughout New England and New York, essentially making it the Toad’s Place of central Connecticut.
“It’s the House of Blues meets Dave Navarro,” said co-owner James Peracchio of Middletown. “We want to create an intimate destination for live music. This is a performance venue for art.”
The inside contains some of the old trappings from Synergy, but the red chandeliers, curtains and glitter are on the way out to make way for a larger stage.
Reserve, which opened in January, has had appearances from Cross-Eyed Cat and Dan Taylor from Maine. Both brought crowds of well over 100 people. Radio 104 broadcast its Home Brew show at the event and the venue gets plugged by Reverbnation.
Most patrons come from surrounding towns such as Middletown, Wallingford, Cheshire, New Haven, Hartford and as far as Springfield. Peracchio and general manager Justin Santos want to reach out to the local community to gather more interest and host fundraisers. On April 8, Reserve will host a Paul Mitchell sponsored fundraiser with guest Samantha Cole
“Everything is under one roof,” Santos said. “We’re letting people know you can come to Meriden and have a good time.”
Peracchio and partners Anthony Tedesco, David Gere and David Orsini use the first two floors of the three-level club and plan for expansion when business picks up.
The club opened its doors to city youngsters during the recent St. Patrick’s Day parade to introduce them to music while they got their faces painted. Peracchio and Santos are also reaching out to local schools for possible music programs. An April 25 benefit with Concerts with Causes will help pay for one-year of music lessons for three local children.
“Music appreciation doesn’t have to start at 21 years old,” Peracchio said. “We’re trying to get a lot more involved in the community.”
The all-black interior will probably stay because it works well with the spotlights. But the dance floor is going to be converted to all wood, and there are plans to add more color and plants. The owners have plans for a cigar, hookah bar on the second floor and a possible sports bar lounge with a DJ on the third-floor. The venue is currently being used as a movie set in an upcoming production of “Sensory Perception” and Peracchio would like to incorporate filming in its overall operations.
Unlike a night club that needs other clubs and eating establishments to create a destination cluster, a performance venue doesn’t require attractions in the area, because it is the destination, Peracchio said.
Reserves now serves pub food prepared by Christo’s Pizza and kept warm for customers. Santos hopes to start opening up a happy hour as performances start packing the venue. The men recently started an open mic night on Thursday’s, Friday nights feature local talent and Saturday nights feature cover bands.
“If they knock our socks off Thursday, we’ll put them on a Friday night,” Peracchio said.
Mayor Manny Santos — no relation to Justin Santos — called the group rising stars in the city’s downtown.
“It’s supposed to be geared as a upscale club and they want to be more involved in the community, participate with community and neighboring businesses,” Santos said.
“The upscale club is very attractive for other investors and business that want to invest nearby. It’s magnificent architecture. We need this club downtown, it attracts a certain clientele, that are young hip and will attract more shops and businesses downtown. I hope they thrive and I’ll do what I can to make that happen.”
Information about The Reserve and upcoming events can be found at http://connecticutreserve.com.
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