Richard Mann, and his business partner Larry Shore really want to show you a good time at Phoenix Dining and Entertainment. What once sat for seven years as a vacant and neglected despair of a building at 215 Liberty Street coming into Pawcatuck is now a welcoming beacon in the night attracting those interested in experiencing a supper club unlike any venue in the area.
“People can come in have a good meal, enjoy some cocktails, dance, and watch a show,” says co-owner Richard Mann.
A step inside the doors and its an immersion into an eclectic open-air space that draws you in further out of curiosity and friendly staff that greet you and want to make your Phoenix experience a pleasurable one. Your eyes are drawn to the dark walls with posters and framed pictures of musical artists from all generations of musical talent from Motown, and country, to rock and roll and jazz.
In the center is a huge dining area, and on each black table is a vintage vinyl album cover (remember those?) immersed into the center of the table. So not only will you be dining with your date but Neil Diamond, Quincy Jones, or even the Beatles will be joining you.
The design and function of Phoenix was a well thought out and considerate process on the part of the owners and local artist Serena Bates. Chandeliers and disco balls light up the ceiling, and the dark glistening wood on the floor is a nice contrast and where on a Tuesday night the tables are pushed aside and the line dancing lights up the floor.
The elevated 40-foot stage means there’s no bad seat in the house when people are dining and listening to the music, and with seating for up to 200 in the main hall the music delivers an acoustically amazing sound. The dance floor, at the base of the stage, was once a small koi pond when it was the former Japanese steak house back in 2000.
For someone who has previously never owned a dining and entertainment club such as Phoenix Richard has not only risen from the ashes of what businesses came and went before (Fuji Gardens and Rosalini’s) but he is thinking out of the box and doing it his way with a winning vision.
Serena has also added to the vision of Phoenix with the private event room called the Crows Nest that she decorates with local artist paintings and her own sculptors. Used as a multipurpose space, artists are featured monthly with the public invited for the art opening show and to meet the artist.
The bands that Richard books to perform also use the Crows Nest as a Green Room to set up before the show. And if your looking for a little quieter vibe and want a break from the band playing out in the main area, the staff will set you up for dinner at one of the bistro tables in the Crows Nest admiring all the cool artwork in its comfortable space.
Bryce Howard, one of the Phoenix Chefs serves up comfort food, bar bites, and a stylized menu such as – caramelized Brussel sprouts, steak, fusion foods, pasta dishes, cod, baked or deep-fried, and their scallop pot pie, with sea scallops out of Stonington, that is all pleasurable to the palate.
When Richard and Larry purchased the property last August he originally thought the Phoenix would be a key turn operation where he would fix it up, rent it out or sell it, similar to his other real estate ventures of buying run-down houses and fixing them up to sell.
“This is my first time doing this, I’ve never done this before with a business, and I could not have taken this on without him,” says Richard. “We don’t want to flip tables, we want people to come with date and stay for the show and for it really to catch on and work.”
And he is really having a good time booking the musical talents that are featured nightly, bands that not only are hail from CT and RI but also Massachusetts and New York as well. “It’s different every night and the musicians say there is no stage like this, they come back to the Crows Nest and chill out here. We make it nice for them.”
From cover tribute bands that play The Doors, Def Leppard, and Neil Diamond, to danceable blues featuring Dr. G and the Believers, to the Connecticut Transit Authority recreating the early musical years of Chicago there is something for all generations to appreciate and keep coming back for more. The bands start at 8 p.m. to have you home by 9:30.
“I want people to see the place, meet me, and say good things,” says Richard. “And I want the support of local people from New London, Norwich, and Westerly to keep it up and running.”
Richard and the Phoenix team are hard at work adding on a patio out back and are excited to offer in the near future corn hole, horseshoes, and volleyball. Stay tuned!
Come experience a thrilling memorable evening at Phoenix.