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Sunday, November 27, 2022

New jazz bar opens in Downtown Gainesville

A new bar with a retro vibe plans to bring the love of jazz to patrons

<p>Jazz Baby quartet plays its repertoire of songs at Baby J’s May 10, 2022.</p>

Jazz Baby quartet plays its repertoire of songs at Baby J’s May 10, 2022.

Downtown’s newest bar is sure to take you back in time to the Jazz Age. 

The jazz joint, located at 7 W. University Ave., officially opened April 26 and has been popular among crowds. Tables are filling up as more people catch wind of the jazz-themed bar.

Baby J’s is open from 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday.

Patrons are greeted by the roaring sound of jazz music and the strong smell of coffee flowing through the air. The cocktails are curated by the staff, and every detail is accounted for — down to the customized matchboxes on the marble tables. 

The menu mixes different appetizers and cocktails, and the drinks are as artistic as the interior. With gin and tonics, cocktail tray, seasonal and classic cocktails and beer, there are plenty of options.

Baby J’s is a prime location for Instagram posts – from the baby pink walls to the eclectic album collection behind the bar. 

Jay Shuster, Kyle Spor and Grace Glennon, co-owners of Baby J’s and the well-known Cry Baby’s restaurant and bar, noticed the vacant space next door to Cry Baby’s and saw an opportunity to breed more business. They purchased the space and began renovating it into what would soon become Baby J’s.

“The space was available, so we wanted one big cohesive thing,” Spor said 

Shuster, 39, said he based Baby J’s off of jazz kissatens: Japanese coffee shops that turn into full-fledged jazz clubs by nightfall. Bartenders would play music while people enjoyed their favorite brewed or alcoholic drink. 

Popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s, music was the main focus of these bars, which is something Shuster hopes to emulate in Baby J’s.

“It’s kind of like putting the ritual back into listening to music,” Shuster said.

Glennon, 32, grew up in Gainesville and wanted to offer a chicer option for residents to attend for special occasions. She envisioned a place that was more high class and geared towards adults who could dress up for an event or special occasion. Glennon said she also wanted to add to the jazz scene in Gainesville.

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She grew up listening to the music and has carried a love for the music since she was a young girl. 

“My parents are jazz musicians, so I grew up with that,” Glennon said.

Jazz Baby quartet, formally known as Brenda Bayne Trio, is one of the two jazz bands that play at Baby J’s regularly. As of now, the bar only hosts live music on Tuesdays. 

The band performs every Tuesday between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Lead singer Brenda Bayne, 69, and bassist David Glennon, 63, are Grace’s parents, but nepotism did not land them the gig. 

“I’m in the club, not through nepotism, but just because we’re good,” Bayne said.

The band, including piano player Robert D’Amico, has played for over 20 years. They’ve built up a reputation around Gainesville by playing at local places such as Satchel’s Pizza and Emiliano’s Cafe. The trio turned into a quartet and rebranded recently with the addition of their drummer Jon Jackson.

The band said they love performing at Baby J’s, noting the impeccable speaker system and stage. Jazz Baby quartet enjoys having a place to perform that appreciates jazz the way that they do.

“This is much better,” D’Amico said in comparison to other places the band performed at. “In terms of the sound system and the way it’s set up.” 

Savannah Blevins, a 23-year-old UF, plant science senior, found Baby J’s by spotting a pack of matches on the side of the road. She picked it up and then quickly searched up the spot on Google.

Blevins, a jazz lover, didn’t hesitate to check the bar out when she discovered it. She said she's excited for a place where she can listen to the music she is passionate about.

“I feel like it’s so needed,” Blevins said. “It’s so cute. I love the mirrors and high ceilings.”

As Baby J’s Bar continues to grow, it is certain that more people will be aware of the jazz scene in Gainesville and have a spot to appreciate the music while also enjoying coffee or cocktails.

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