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Vinyl Bar Spinning Into Uptown Saint John

Brian Irving and Jody Kliffer inside the soon-to-be open Five and Dime. (Image: Cherise Letson)

SAINT JOHN – A new bar opening in the port city will celebrate the old way of listening to tunes.

The Five and Dime, opening in early November on Grannan Lane (in the old Bustin’s building) will be a place enjoy craft beer and music, specifically, the kind on wax.

The bar is the concept of Jody Kliffer and Brian Irving.

“We’re music fans collecting vinyl for a long time and we didn’t think there was a real strong space in the midst of Saint John bars that really reflected music,” Kliffer says. ” [A place that has] a visible collection of vinyl records, people can come in and bring their vinyl, share their vinyl, trade their vinyl … [We want to] just make this about music, talk about music, share music, listen to music and enjoy good beer at the same time. So that’s really our focus.”

Though there are a few bars in the uptown that frequently host live music, that’s not where the Five and Dime will excel, though they will have a small stage for the occasional live performance. Programming details are still being ironed out, but Kliffer and Irving say there will be regular DJ’s spinning music along with events such as “bring your own wax” day and vinyl exchange events. They also plan to host open discussions with guests working in the music industry. The bar will also serve pizza and small appetizers from Italian By Night, which will be just upstairs.

Irving says the bar will be on the low-key side, a place where you can go and relax without a bunch of noise.

Image: Cherise Letson

Image: Cherise Letson

“I think one of the things we’ve seen is a lot of places have a lot of screens and a lot of noise and we want to be a little more chill,” he says. “Almost like a date-type place where there’s not so much distraction, and a little more speak-easy focus.”

Five and Dime will be joining a number of niche bars that have opened, or will be opening, in the city’s uptown. Last week Eighty Three Bar Arcade opened and Hopscotch Whiskey Bar opened in September. Yuk Yuk’s comedy club (located in the same building as Five and Dime) will also be opening in the near future.

Kliffer, who works as an urban planner for the City of Saint John, says bars with a specific focus are a shift from those that opened in the city decades ago.

“When we grew up here, when you opened up a restaurant or a bar, they tried to be everything to everybody. There was a lot of standardized furniture, standardized themes, standard North American food, and mostly corporate beer. The whole thing being that something different about their brand and design would attract people in,” Kliffer says. “That mostly worked for a number of decades. But the focus these days when places open up is very defined. They really hone in on what they want to be and they execute along those lines.”

“That’s what I think is exciting now about Saint John and the uptown. Not just that there’s new stores. We’ve had stores come and go and bars and restaurants open and close over the years, but now it’s things that have such a broad landscape of identity that no matter what your interests are, you’re going to be able to hop around have a different kind of fun every half block you travel.”

Though there are many bars in the uptown area, Irving says there’s been no animosity or competition surrounding their project. In fact, he says it’s been quite the opposite.

“It’s been really fun doing this project and shockingly empowering when you realize how the support ecosystem of small businesses is so strong … There’s just been so many people who have been good to us and it’s really encouraging to see people who don’t have a business in the uptown come in here and try to take a space and they are getting supported,” he says.

“People believe more is better and that what we’re all doing it going to make it a better place, a more fun place and a more meaningful place.”