Downtown will have a new live music venue when the second incarnation of “Underbelly” opens at 113 E. Bay St., between Newnan and Ocean streets.
Emily Moody and Cameron Beard are remodeling the former Ivy Ultra Bar, replacing the sterile industrial décor with a more organic feel to mirror the original location behind Moody’s “Anomaly” clothing store in Five Points.
Moody said she was inspired to add live music to the retail store program in January 2010 after hosting a series of music-related events.
“I was always inviting bands and having CD release parties and giving away drinks,” she said.
Beard discovered the venue through a roommate who played in a band and kept telling him about a great place in Five Points behind a clothing store.
He said the first time he went to Underbelly, he wasn’t sure what to expect since he was asked to pay a cover charge when he entered the women’s clothing store.
“But pretty soon, it was the only place I wanted to go when I wanted to go out,” Beard said.
He joined Moody in the business after volunteering to help improve the sound and light system. Moody was soon running the beer and wine side of the business while Beard handled the productions.
About eight months ago, the partners started looking for a new location for Underbelly and after exploring almost 50 possibilities, they discovered the club space on East Bay Street that would soon be available.
“When we got two steps inside the door, we knew this was the place,” said Beard.
They signed a lease in January and began planning how to transfer the look and feel of the 500-square-foot original to the new 4,600-square-foot location.
“We’re going to bring the outdoors in,” said Beard.
Plans include lots of wood and live plants and a living wall near the new stage.
Beard said he’s installing $30,000 worth of sound and lighting equipment and plans to book local and national acts of virtually all music genres.
“We’ll have reggae, jazz and bluegrass, but no hard-core punk or straight-up rap. We’ll go with what the crowd wants,” he said.
Plans are to serve 100 craft beers, including 30 on tap, plus wine. Moody and Beard are planning a food menu limited to about 16 items.
“Half carnivore and half vegan and vegetarian,” she said.
The paper covering the windows during construction is printed with the silhouette of a swine, an allusion to Beard’s recipe for pulled pork that will be on the menu.
Moody said plans are to debut the venue to the public Memorial Day weekend in conjunction with the Jacksonville Jazz Festival.
In the meantime, she invites people to join Underbelly’s almost 2,000 Facebook friends.