Sipping on a glass of red wine during a break between songs, You and Yourn’s Nic Dillon smiled shyly at the audience at Meet Lounge. The crowd soaked up his endearing awkwardness as Dillon chatted with them about life in Las Vegas, “It’s like a wonder world,” he remarked, slightly in awe. “I know about it like I know about Disneyland.” The conversation went back and forth for a good 10 minutes between the on-stage band and the group of onlookers perched casually atop their bar stools.
The mood at the bar felt more suited to an open mic night at a local coffee house, and that’s exactly what Meet Lounge owner Charlie Fox is going for. “It’s very intimate,” said Fox of the reinvented Meet Lounge at Decatur Road and Charleston Boulevard. “You can sit right in front and relax.”
Fox, who also runs downtown’s Bunkhouse Saloon, recently decided it was time to give Meet, formerly known as Meatheads, a bit of a face-lift. After seeing a dramatic turnaround in attendance at the Bunkhouse once he incorporated live music, Fox decided to work some of the same magic at his newest venture. He turned to local promoter Thirry Harlin, who partnered with Fox in the Bunkhouse’s musical christening, to help realize Meet’s potential.
The interior of the former sports bar (Lions memorabilia still lines the walls for the original daytime crowd) reflects the transformation. Like an epside of Trading Spaces, the shuffle board, which once claimed the right side wall has been replaced in favor of a counter and stools. The large pool table that once filled out most of the back room is now the stage area.
“The first night [of live bands] was crazy,” said a wide-eyed Fox. “They’d just put in the sound system, it was First Friday, and Thirry called Black Camaro and asked them to come down. They brought about 55 people with them and played for two hours straight.”
While the Bunkhouse is successful, Fox isn’t trying to create a carbon copy of the Downtown bar. “We want to try to take the bands that we book at the Bunkhouse and give them a different venue over here where it’s an MTV Unplugged type deal,” explained Fox. “Maybe they don’t have to bring their amplifiers.”
Intimacy is a big part of that vision, which can accommodate about 50 – 60 people per show. Jessica Hutchins, who helps in handling Meet’s band nights, seconded the sentiment. “We never want it to be more than two bands a night and no more than five bucks,” she said.
While bringing in more customers by appealing to a fresh, younger crowd is part of Fox’s plan, increasing revenue is not what it’s all about for him. “We’ve got a business regardless, so this is just something that’s fun,” he said while leaning against the doorway and watching You and Yourn’s pack up at the end of their set.
- Meet Lounge
- 1121 S Decatur Blvd # 120
Fox genuinely seems to have a love for the music he gets to witness first hand. “He’s been so happy,” observed Hutchins. “There was one night that he loved the band so much he gave them money out of his own pocket.” The bands seem to be reciprocating the feeling. “Obviously we’re doing something right,” said Fox. “Most every band [that plays] says they’re ready to come back.”
As for whether or not the new face of Meet will stick, only time can tell, but Fox is making no snap judgments. “It takes time, it took us about two years at the Bunkhouse to get a name,” he said. “You have to get a little background. People don’t want to play somewhere no one’s played before.”
In the meantime, Fox is grateful for the opportunity to have a role in the local music scene. “It’s nice to be a part of it,” he said with a smile. “Otherwise, I’d just be home sleeping.”