Jan Lucca just isn’t a man identified for sniffing out silver linings. However even the outspoken proprietor of Lucca’s Restaurant and Beer Backyard in downtown Benicia noticed the optimistic of getting your entire enterprise evaporate beneath the crush of COVID-19 final 12 months.
“No one complained in regards to the music,” Lucca stated wryly, presumably grinning behind his face protecting.
Decibel ranges apart, Lucca and music curator Marty Duvall are virtually doing somersaults because the beer backyard stage welcomed musicians again March 6-7.
Because it’s closed within the winter and didn’t have a present earlier than the pandemic slammed the door in reside music’s face, the favored roughly 50-seat venue hadn’t had a present since November, 2019.
After two weekends of tunes 2:30 to five:30 p.m., Lucca and Duvall are relieved.
“It’s great,” Lucca stated. “Folks have been itching to get again and so they’re loving getting out, listening to good music and having time.”
“Individuals are simply thrilled,” added Duvall, becoming a member of the boss for an in-person chat Monday morning.
Positive, there have been “COVID changes,” Duvall stated. With the restricted seating, reservations have to be made on-line with a $5 payment for the previously no-cover-charge leisure.
“There have been no arguments. Individuals are glad to pay it,” Duvall stated.
The small payment “brings in people who got here right here to see the music moderately than individuals who are available and speak over the band,” Duvall stated. “Everybody respects it. They’re studying that they should go make a reservation. We do try to do our greatest to accommodate ‘walk-ins.’ It relies upon whether or not these with reservations present up or generally go away early.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, “we made a ton of changes,” Duvall stated. “Each transfer we made needed to be with county pointers in consideration. We are able to’t make the most of ‘standing area’ anymore. Everybody needs to be seated and we’re restricted to what number of we are able to have in.”
As a result of Duvall’s attempting to restrict the variety of our bodies on the intimate stage, he’s sticking to solo, duos and at most trios “till we are able to get a really feel of how that is going over, the way it’s working with compliance,” he stated. “Does it work for the band? Does it work for the general public? To date, the whole lot’s been golden.”
Lucca concurs, although he’s holding the restaurant shut till the county and state enable him to open at 50 p.c “as a result of 25 p.c isn’t price efficient,” he stated.
The day or month the following COVID “tier” adjustments “we don’t know,” Duvall stated. “We’ve given up guessing. Usually, I’d be quickly reserving bands and a complete season earlier than issues get loopy. This 12 months, I’m utilizing quite a lot of restraint.”
There’s all the time an opportunity a COVID-19 surge forces a return to tighter restrictions, Duvall stated, “and I don’t wish to should cancel a bunch of acts after setting them up.”
Hopefully, he continued, “restrictions loosen up and we’ll be doing full bands and possibly letting extra individuals in.”
Although the 17 dormant months “really feel prefer it was yesterday whereas it was occurring,” Duvall admitted to “low-level anxiousness questioning if and when” the music “would occur once more.”
Duvall stated the viewers was grateful from the primary time he stepped to the microphone to introduce the opening present March 6.
“It was very easy to get vitality from the group. I simply needed to say ‘welcome again.’ All people was thrilled to be right here,” Duvall stated.
Duvall acknowledged all of the Bay Space venues that couldn’t keep afloat final 12 months, together with the treasured Armando’s in Martinez that shutdown final February due to a misplaced lease and never COVID-19.
“The community between our two institutions precipitated some nice vitality right here,” stated Duvall, assured that Benicia, Vallejo, Fairfield and Vacaville “can turn into a ‘music area.’”
It helps bringing in well-known artists, Duvall stated, together with this weekend’s trio of Benicia percussionist Jeff Campitelli, acclaimed rock guitarist Stef Burns, and premiere bass participant Jim Funk. The 2 exhibits are already at capability, Duvall stated.
Lucca stated his final reserving prize could be his personal favourite, Boz Scaggs.
“He doesn’t should be introduced. Simply drop in and do one track,” stated Lucca, providing to “purchase him a burger and a Bud. And if he does two songs, I’ll throw in fries and improve to a craft beer.”
What Grammy successful artist would reject a proposal like that?
Music at Lucca’s Beer Backyard runs each Saturday and Sunday, 2:30 to five:30 p.m., 439 First St., Benicia. To order $5 seat, go to luccabar.com.