Smooth Sounds and Southern Hospitality

by Jennifer Crain for OLY ARTS

On August 10, the doors to the New Orleans-inspired Tipsy Piano Bar will open. The downtown venue will feature Southern and Southwest cuisine and a lounge-style dining room designed for easy conversation. In the newly renovated space, patrons will sit at candlelit tables and order drinks from a granite-topped bar accented with purple lights. But the main attraction, say creators Jenna and Jonas Rodriguez, is the glass-topped, Yamaha, baby-grand, player piano, the focal point of both the physical space and the bar’s concept: live piano by customer request.

House pianist Larry Hill will perform on Friday and Saturday nights. Chris Avila will play Thursdays. A rotating list of pianists will fill in on other weeknights. When no one’s scheduled, the piano will play itself with the resident skeleton, Jack, propped at the keyboard.

The drinks menu, created by bartender Chris Waggoner, will include 31 signature cocktails with house-made syrups and Salish Sea Organic Liqueurs. Most will be twists on classic drinks, such as a blueberry French 75 and a honey-berry Moscow Mule. Waggoner will also serve Vegas-style daiquiris. The menu, created by chef Joe Rubio, will include red beans and rice, jambalaya, blackened fish and entrées featuring Hatch green chiles in homage to the couple’s time in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rubio, who created or helped launch more than a dozen restaurants, will make such scratch desserts as hummingbird cake and buttermilk chess pie. (Beignets are in the works.) Purveyors include Hama Hama Oyster Company, San Francisco Street Bakery and Tri City Meats. Daily specials will be based on peak-season, farmers’ market vegetables.

Sitting piano-side at a favorite haunt in New Orleans during a January vacation this year, the couple envisioned such a setting when they mentioned to friends that they’d long dreamed of opening a bar of their own. The friends, Jerry and Malissa Antonelli, were intrigued. The two Olympia couples co-own the bar. “We wanted to create a place,” Jenna says, “where there’s good food, good music and good vibes — a place where everybody feels comfortable and where we want to be as well.”

What: Tipsy Piano Bar

Where: 514 Capitol Way S, Olympia

When: grand opening 2 p.m. – midnight, Thursday, Aug. 10

How much: $5-$15 per item

Learn more: 360-915-7181 / Facebook

2 thoughts on “Smooth Sounds and Southern Hospitality”

  1. I wanted to also add: Our wine list features a worldwide selection of organic, highly rated and award-winning wines. By-the-glass prices range from $6 to $9 and bottles are as affordable as $17, ranging up to the $30s and $40s.

    We are extremely competitive in our pricing, and our whiskey selection (scotch, bourbon, ryes) is one of the largest in the city and also very affordably priced.

    Any requests from guests to bring in spirits or add cocktails are fulfilled as fast as possible, and we love to bring your favorite spirits to our shelves.

    If you ever want to add anything, tell your server or ask for me.

    We are so excited to see all of you and show you some of the best cocktails in the area.

    Make sure to try our Bloody Keys (spicy mary). You will not be disappointed!

    Cheers and see you soon!

    — Chris Waggoner, bar manager, Tipsy

  2. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the piano player …

    I’ll be performing during the entire gran-opening weekend, Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 10-12.

    Last weekend was a blast! We had a great crowd with lots of interaction and requests.

    I’m not a classical pianist – I’m self-taught as a tool for supporting my vocal skills, and I was a vocal major in college. I have a 300-song catalog so it’s pretty rare to not be able to fulfill requests. Come on out and let’s have some more fun!

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