ALBANY -- An old friend has come back to town, sporting a face-lift. The Ivy Room has reopened, celebrating with a party on Dec. 8.
The bar never technically went away. But a few years ago, its old incarnation was replaced with a dance club. Now, new owners Tanya and Ronaldo Colli are returning the beloved Ivy to its roots, as a neighborhood bar with live music.
This after a four-month-long renovation that saw the couple revamp the interior.
"We want to bring it back to a neighborhood bar," Tanya Colli said. "I think before it was more of a destination spot. When it was a lounge and a dance bar, people (were) coming from different parts of the East Bay. It's important for us that the community is happy and feels comfortable here."
So far, the community seems to feel pretty comfortable.
"I think it's great," said customer Chris Washington while sitting at the bar on Monday. "It's nice. It's back to being a regular bar and not a dance club."
Added customer Darius Kraus, "It's much more like the first one and not the second one. And that's what we like."
Tanya Colli wouldn't say how much she and her husband spent renovating the interior. However, the look, which she called, "kind of industrial artisan meets a little bit of prohibition," came by scouring all kinds of sources.
"We used a lot of stuff that was reclaimed from construction sites," she said. "We wanted people to look around and say wow. We've had a lot
Such as, where did they find the shoe shine chair?
"We got that up in Petaluma," Tanya Colli said. "It had had a previous life in a hotel in downtown Oakland. We thought it was pretty cool."
The acquisitions weren't exactly the result of a spending spree.
"We were quite frankly on a shoestring budget and that helped us in trolling the old antique fairs," she said. "We've got stuff from Goodwill."
Ronaldo Colli spent the past 15 years hand-crafting cocktails at various bars in San Francisco and the couple decided it was time to buy their own place. The Ivy Room was available and the Collis jumped on it.
Tanya Colli said her husband "geeks out" about cocktails. One of their specialties is the Tore Margarita.
"That seems to be really popular," she said. "This one has roasted jalapeños, it has tamarind. The roasted jalapeños give it a kick. Everything is fresh-squeezed here."
Plans include more music and some form of food -- the bar doesn't have a kitchen, but a partnership with a local caterer is a possibility.
Meantime, the Collis are excited to be part of the Ivy Room's history.
"We're just excited to be a part of that history," Tanya Colli said. "Everybody has got a story and I really enjoy hearing them."
Hmm, could some of those stories be rated R?
"Nobody has shocked me yet, but I think they're holding back," Tanya Colli said with a laugh. "We've had everybody from the college crowd to (people) my mom and dad's age. Everybody has had an experience here it seems like or knows somebody who has."