Scott Richie has worked in and out of the Durham bar scene for the better part of the last two decades — bartending and managing establishments such as now-closed Whiskey and French bistro Vin Rouge, among others.
Now, after several years out of the bar scene, Richie plans to open his own bar, The Accordion Club, later this month on West Geer Street.
Richie, who lives about a block away from where the new bar will be going at 316 W. Geer St., said he thinks the establishment will bring out a different sort of clientele to the Geer Street bar scene, which has become one of the main hubs of nightlife in the city.
“You have the established places around Geer Street,” Richie said, referencing well-known bars such as Fullsteam Brewery, Surf Club and Parts & Labor. “It’s a bit of a hipper scene, and I think we will always be a little out of that.”
That’s because The Accordion Club is meant to cater to the lifestyle Richie now leads as a 40-year-old father and homeowner in the Old North Durham neighborhood. He wants the bar to be low key and relaxed, with cheap prices that make it a regular haunt rather than a once-a-week luxury.
“I love all those restaurants and bars downtown … but I can’t go to those places regularly anymore,” he said, noting how he now has a young daughter and a mortgage. “We want to be that place that you always feel comfortable stopping at, whether it is early or late.”
The plan is to offer craft beers on tap and to not shy away from cheap domestic cans of beer. Richie said he has been working with the health department to approve a small menu that will include inexpensive items such as hot dogs (for around $2.50) and a New Mexico Green Chile Stew based off of a family recipe (for around $6 to $7).
He said the menu is partly based around things he would want to grab to eat on a late-night walk home from the Geer Street area.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve been walking home late at night and there has been nothing open,” he said, adding that he is planning to be open from noon to 2:30 a.m.
The Accordion Club will occupy space that was once El Kilombo Intergaláctico, an internet cafe that was part of the La Costena Supermarket. La Costena moved out of the space last year, and the owners of the building were looking to find tenants that matched Geer Street’s restaurant and bar focus, Richie said. The Accordion Club will take up 1,200 square feet of the 6,750 square-foot building.
The name of the bar is an ode to his grandfather, a travelling accordionist who played in cities along the East Coast — though the inclusion of the word “club” is a misnomer. He just liked how it sounded paired with the word “accordion.”