Matthew Landan has been slinging drinks on the edge of NuLu since before the neighborhood was cool. Known for years to locals as Derby City Espresso, Landan retooled his Market and Preston St. location as the Haymarket Whiskey Bar back in January and has been boasting an impressive roster of artisanal whiskeys and craft brews ever since.
“It just got to a point with Derby City Espresso where we were selling a lot of beer and wine at night, and so I figured why not?” said Landan, who has now demonstrated that same implacable flexibility/go-with-the-flowness by way of his Louisiana Purchase-esque acquisition of a full-scale concert space behind the original location.
For those who’ve never been, Haymarket Whiskey Bar is whiskey-row-style shotgun building, in that it’s fairly narrow but runs quite far all the way to the back where the bar-top is located. Landan has always mantained a small patio directly outside the rear of the bar and the concert space is a separate, and equally large shotgun structure accessible by walking through the patio.
Being that the new space is not visible from the street, it’s a disorienting surprise to realize just how much space Haymarket now has. But what a pleasant surprise it is, as the act of traveling out the back of the original bar, across the patio and into the new building is a bit like walking from train car to train car on some magical, booze-fueled locomotive made of brick.
LouisvilleKY.com had the opportunity to plug Landan for a bit more info on the goings-on down at Haymarket:
It’s seems to me that your endeavors thus far have been a lesson in persistence. What’s it been like transitioning from Espresso to boozes?
I didn’t really transition from one to the other. I closed DCE In December 2011. Then reopened as the Haymarket in January 2012. It was a pretty smooth break with what had come before. But many of my customers do miss the espresso and I hope someday to serve it again.
NuLu is really turning into a hoppin’ part of town. How has the character of the neighborhood changed in general since you’ve been there? Any thoughts on what brought about the development?
The neighborhood known as NuLu isn’t really a neighborhood. There really isn’t a population living down here yet so we are still very much a destination. Also The Haymarket is neither in NuLu nor downtown proper. Still, I have seen quite a bit of progress in the development of East Market St. in the past five years and I expect that once the Nucleus building across the street from me is completed that there will be further changes and perhaps more residents and neighbors.
Is it true that you work the bar at Haymarket every night of the week or do you have some sort of animatronic body double? How on Earth do you do it?
I don’t work every night. I take Mondays off! Sometimes I have a guest bartender fill in for me. But seriously, it’s pretty easy to take care of my business and show up to work every day. I like owning my own business and I know that it’s not cool to work too hard for something in 2012 but I think of what kind of work my grandfather had to do everyday just to put some food on the table and I think I have it easy.
Tell us about the new concert space. When did it first open? What’s the reaction been like, both with crowds and bands alike?
I first opened the back concert space for Oaks this year. It’s a 2000 square foot shotgun space that has a proper stage, lighting and sound equipment for concerts or DJs. It has a second bar area that I open on some nights and an additional bathroom and seating. The reaction has been universally positive. Nobody really knows about it and so I’ve been showing it off and using it one night at a time.
My plans for the future are to more or less proceed as I have done in the past, one show at a time. Keep booking great local and out-of-town bands and DJs and trust that the bills will get paid and that eventually the space will become one of Louisville’s best know places to see live music, get a craft beer and drink some bourbon and/or rye whiskey.
Now featuring live acts and DJ sets five nights a week, Haymarket Whiskey bar is open everyday from 4:20pm to 2:00am and located at 331 East Market Street. And Matthew may say he’s taking it one show at a time but he also muses that he now has the perfect after-party digs for a certain world-renowned music festival come this time next year. This is a bar to keep your eye on.
Chris Ritter is a Louisville-native freelance writer, journalist and blogger enthusiastic about all things entertainment, media and technology.
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