If you’re friends with longtime Bendistillery Martini Bar manager Reggie Martinez (online or in the real world), you know he’s been talking about this for a while, but now, it’s official: Martinez has purchased the bar — located in the breezeway downtown — from Bendistillery and renamed it the Madhappy Lounge.
I talked to Martinez today and he said he officially took ownership of the bar on Monday. He spent this week scrambling to make a few cosmetic changes in preparation of reopening tonight for a weekend full of — what else? — electronic music and hip-hop. Tonight will see Sonicbloom roll through, and Notes from Underground will play the lounge on Saturday. Both shows will begin around 9 p.m.
Martinez, who’s originally from San Diego, moved to Bend in 2003 with dreams of opening a arts/party venue like those he’d seen in bigger cities. In mid-2007, he began DJing at the martini bar, and before long, he was bartending. Soon after, he became the spot’s manager and was given the OK to begin booking music. Since then, the bar has been one of Bend’s busier venues, with frequent performances by DJs and rappers, plus the occasional show by an acoustic, jazz or rock act.
All along, Bendistillery owner Jim Bendis was aware that his manager wanted to own the bar someday, and he wanted to move the company’s sampling room out to its property in Tumalo, Martinez said. Last fall, Martinez began making moves to buy the bar from Bendis, and about two months ago, the two started working in earnest to make the deal happen. After completing extensive paperwork from the OLCC and City of Bend on Monday, Martinez owned the bar free and clear, he said.
Besides giving Madhappy Lounge a good cleaning and “opening up the space,” Martinez will adjust the bar’s food and drink offerings a bit. First to go: the martini glasses. “They’re too costly and they take up too much room,” he said. “So it’s going to be more of a cocktail lounge.” He’s also going to expand the beer selection and provide more of a full bar, and he’ll and adjust the menu “a little.” (He will also continue to carry Bendistillery products and will maintain a close relationship with the company, he said.)
As far as the music offerings, Martinez will continue what he’s always done, though he wants to get back to booking more bands as opposed to just DJs and MCs. (For example, the Bend Jazz Collective will perform at the lounge on Wednesday night.) As of now, Martinez is aiming for an official grand reopening on July 23.
Getting a website up and running is on Martinez’s “to do” list, but until he gets there, you can keep up with his happenings on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.