Located along the creek and Hudson River tributary that bears its name, the Rondout is one of Kingston’s oldest neighborhoods. The area was a city unto itself before being incorporated with Kingston proper in 1872 and in the 1960s and ’70s was a hornet’s nest of vice. But things changed radically during the 1990s, when pioneering new residents, shopkeepers and restaurateurs entered the picture and began remaking the architecturally rich West Strand neighborhood into the prime nightlife zone it is today. And two recent members of this hopefully ongoing wave of Rondout renewal are Jared Zwiefel and Michael McGrath. Last August they opened the Rondout Music Lounge, one of Kingston’s most promising new live performance venues.
“Our idea [for the business] was pretty simple: just open a cool place where people can meet their friends for drinks or a bite and hear some really nice music,” explains Zwiefel, who grew up in Dutchess and Putnam counties. “The mood here can either be a laid-back, sit-down vibe or it can be really upbeat, with people dancing. We’re trying to have a pretty wide variety of music.”
Located at 21-23 Broadway (the site of the former El Coqui restaurant), the Rondout Music Lounge is a bistro offering a sizeable selection of draft and bottled beers, wine, and other liquors, along with a formidable pub-fare menu that includes burgers, wraps, quesadillas, and desserts. With a capacity of 50, the brick-lined space is small but perfectly suited for cozy performances. Last October bar manager Brandy Walters signed on to oversee the booking, and since then the nightspot has continued to stay true to its owners’ vision of offering a diversity of sounds — everything from jazz drummer Harvey Sorgen to acoustic folk-blues great Roy Bookbinder and punk acts like Boston quartet The Continental (ex-Dropkick Murphys), which will perform on February 18. Wednesday nights feature an open-mic session emceed by Lara Hope of the Champtones and Tigeriss.
Slideshow image: Da Flash Band rocks it out at Rondout Music Lounge. (Photo by Dina Pearlman.)