At Going Local and VIP Limousine, we’re taking a moment to deviate our attention from the ski resorts and impending winter season to have a look back at downtown Salt Lake City. Most of the local establishments we have and will be highlighting are mainstays here in Utah, often having been around for decades. For this write-up though, we’re looking at a place which has an age that can still be measured in days, but which also has a promisingly bright, jazzy future ahead.
Avant Groove is the latest and greatest to hit the Salt Lake City nightlife scene. It’s a jazz club that even skin-deep could be straight out of La La Land, but it’s a bit cleverer than that. Owner John Vecchi moved to Salt Lake City several years ago and had contemplated opening a club in his native Bay Area, but he decided to launch Avant Groove a bit further inland here in Utah. As far as we’re concerned, we’re all the more fortunate for it. He successfully created an atmosphere and vibe that befits both the casual and the classy.
Walking up to the premises, Avant Groove’s initial impressions and appeal center around one word: cool. The establishment is in a renovated historic building on Pierpont Avenue just west of the downtown business district. Outside, there’s a large deck framed by big glass windows, which in turn sit next to an old-fashioned revolving door that takes patrons back in time. Inside, the original bare ceiling is left to show itself and the structure within, but has updated additions where needed which meld different periods of design together. The main room is peppered with modern touches and period-style furnishings that wouldn’t look out of place in the 50s and 60s. Definitely cool.
The icing on the decor cake, though, is two-fold. First is the central bar, which resembles an iceberg sculpted by the 20s or 30s; the second is the chandeliers, which have been made to imitate brass instruments. It’s a unique touch that could be interpreted as a physical manifestation of what jazz music can be: twists, turns, and unexpected moments, and thus definitively cool and classy.
And what cool and classy music it is. On the night which Going Local first went to Avant Groove, the club featured a local ensemble which was celebrating the 100th birthday of jazz icon Thelonius Monk. In addition to guest artists, the owner of Avant Groove himself performs with a quintet called Elastic. The music played on center stage here is great fun and is executed beautifully by enthusiastic and knowledgeable musicians.
The architecture, ambience, and sounds should tickle your senses, but Avant Groove isn’t done yet. The kitchen, wait, and bar staff is continually whipping up and serving delicious food and drinks on the ready to delight noses and taste buds. They will even make non-alcoholic versions of classic drinks. The food is excellent and can be easily shared, and is great for satisfying one’s appetite instead of overindulging.
In order to stimulate one’s five senses at Avant Groove, it’s a quick walk west from the Utah Transit Authority‘s Gallivan Plaza TRAX station (on the Green and Blue lines) to Pierpont Avenue, just off of West Temple between 200 and 300 South. There’s also a good amount of parking in the area; for chauffeured patrons, there’s also a spot on the curb for quick loading and unloading.
This establishment’s time in Salt Lake City has so far been very short; as that time gets longer, it will determine how well it does. One thing is for sure though: we at VIP Limousine and Going Local are rooting for Avant Groove’s success and placement on the map of local hot spots. Salt Lake City: listen up and take a bite of this place!