Watch out, Deep Ellum; there's a new gang in the neighborhood. Well, sort of. The folks behind Club Dada rolled out a brand-new venture Tuesday night with the soft opening of Off the Record, a unique combination bar and record store in the space adjoining the Elm St. music venue. (It was, in fact, previously the backstage area for visiting bands at Dada.)
With over 20 beers on tap, a full liquor bar, and a selection of roughly 2,000 records on vinyl curated by Lower Greenville's Good Records, the new venue presents a fascinating and stylish new addition to the neighborhood.
Josh Florence, who started up Off the Record with business partners Phil Coward, Bryan Austin and Tim Daniels, says that the idea has been in the works since they first purchased the then-shuttered Club Dada all the way back in 2010. "We always wanted to use this space for something," Florence explains. But it was only about a year ago that the team really got started on the project, once they'd received approval from the city. "There was a lot of red tape to go through," he says.
Initially, the vision for Off the Record was strictly to be a bar, but that changed one day back in the spring Florence and Coward went to lunch. "Phil needed to go over to Good Records to pick up a record, because we have a record player over in the [Dada] office," Florence recalls. While there, the pair ran into Good Records co-owner Chris Penn (Florence is long-time friends with Tim DeLaughter, as well), whom they floated the idea of selling records to on the spur of the moment. "Chris loved the idea right away," says Florence.
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The combination of beers and records is a logical enough one, but it's rare as a business concept. "There isn't anything similar in the country, except in Portland," says Florence. As such, he admits it's a bit of a risky concept, but there's reason to believe it could succeed: while the intention is to keep Off the Record independent from Dada -- their share an inside door as well as the rear patio -- there's plenty of opportunity for the two to feed each other business.
"We've been paying for this space the whole time," Florence muses, acknowledging that the former backstage area was especially large for a venue of Dada's size. "Besides, the green room will be in [the record store], just over in the corner." It's not hard to see visiting bands becoming patrons themselves.
While the store isn't fully finished, per se, the decor relies on a simple but elegant aesthetic, with exposed, aged brick and multi-colored wood trim. The front window of the room had a DJ booth, and the plan is to host dance nights and other small events.
Off the Record opens 4 p.m. on weekdays and at noon on weekends, staying open each night until 2 a.m. While the venue is now officially open for business, they won't have a proper grand opening until September 12, when there will be a surprise guest DJ. The following night, Off the Record will also host the first installment of the DC9 at Night Mixtape DJ showcase, which will run the second Thursday of each month and feature artists from our blog's weekly mixtape series curated by Wanz Dover.