Out of the ashes of Hush Lounge — Zoey’s 2.0

If you don’t already know, Zoey’s Cafe and Loft (the location for last year’s VCReporter local music issue cover)  is relocating to the old Hush Lounge location in about a month (if everything goes as planned).

The move is indicative of the mutability of downtown Ventura’s business district, which seems to get increasingly fragile every week.  Though somewhat iconic, in its cozy corner of the El Jardin Courtyard, it was only a matter of time before Zoey’s outgrew its tight quarters. Lucky for owners Steve and Polly Hoganson,  the roomy environs of the former Hush became available, but it’s a bittersweet development that finds Zoey’s growth in the shadow of Hush’s demise.

Before finally closing a few months ago, Hush weathered a punishing storm of adversity which put it much too squarely on the radar of local police. The biggest issue,  allegedly was  noise, but its proximity to other music venues made that accusation somewhat suspect. The owner walked around with a decibel meter and claimed to be extremely conscientious about noise levels in the venue.

Given that this was the chief reason cited by city authorities for Hush’s problems, it didn’t quite add up when another music venue was given a chance to do business in that location.

But, the Hoganson’s said that their lease of the property is contingent upon an absolute NO DJ, NO DANCING policy.  Since Zoey’s live entertainment consists of low-key singer-songwriter performances, the chances of a throbbing bass line nudging neighboring hotel guests out of bed, is slim to none. Plus,  Zoey’s plans to turn off before midnight.

The room where bands will perform at the new location is not much bigger than the loft at Zoey’s now, but the biggest change, and key reason for the expansion, is the kitchen/restaurant. The venue’s chef, the Hoganson’s son, once worked under Chris Watson (Nona’s Courtyard Cafe, Bodee’s) and along with another Watson protege is cooking up an expanded comfort-driven menu for the new Zoey’s.

The Hoganson’s, who have been credited with fostering a tightly knit community of singer-songwriters while bringing in critically lauded Hotel Cafe acts, are planning for events to spill over into the nearby Mission Park and Figueroa plaza.

The last show at the current Zoey’s location on Main St. will be Grant Lee Buffalo on March 28. Stay tuned for more info on the new venue as it develops. Let’s help the Hoganson’s and other downtown live music venues make a go of it.

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