By John Grossi
If you’re like me, on the occasions you’ve been to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, your primary objective was to taste fried-chicken and waffles… that delectable food-combo that can only be described as good for the soul. I’ve always tended to work up an appetite before a meal at Roscoe’s, and thus been led by my nose and brain to navigate as fast as possible into the building and to the left, to find a table in one of the best smelling dining rooms in the city.
But what about that door on the right? While my nose has always led me left, my eyes and ears had built this curiosity about that other door. What could possibly lie beyond it? I was imagining some sort of smoky, dim-lit, old dive bar with live jazzy music. This summer, inspired to discover a different type of live music than I was accustomed to in Long Beach, I scheduled a night out at Roscoe’s Jazz Lounge.
Transported to Another Place
What I discovered was something way cooler than I could ever have imagined. Upon entry, the first thing I saw was an authentic old bar on my left, offering a full list of beer, wine, and cocktails. A busy bartender concocted drinks while a staff of servers brought them out to the guests waiting at tables. Straight in front of me, the main floor was filled with tables for two, pillared on each side by soft velvet chairs. Around the walls were booths for parties of 4-6. All seating pointed toward the main attraction- A stage, anchored by a grand piano and whatever other instruments that night’s entertainment would bring.
I was there on a Saturday to catch The Howard Rice Band, one of many acts that perform at the lounge. Their band included drums, guitar, bass, keyboard, and Howard Rice on the mic singing a mix of jazz-inspired oldies, love songs, and Billboard hits from the ‘60s to the ‘90s. Singer Rice walked up and down the aisles while he sang, serenading each table and encouraging people out of their seats when the moment was right.
Long Beach native and owner of the club, Lisa Cruz, started the lounge with her dad Tony almost 10 years ago. Their original patrons were mostly Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles customers, who came by for a drink while they waited for their table or as a cap to their meal. However, through their steady dedication to booking superb musical acts, Roscoe’s Jazz Lounge is now a draw of its own in the heart of Downtown Long Beach.
Find Your Night
Music is from 8pm - 12am, Wednesday through Sunday, with additional shows during Sunday brunch—the most popular time of the week for Roscoe’s restaurant-side.
Every Wednesday, Long Beach’s own VIP Records showcase their newest local talent in an eclectic night that appeals to young adults. Each Thursday night, the lounge fills with the sounds of the area’s top reggae talent. And on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, you can expect a mix of jazz, R&B, and funk. Lots and lots of music to which you can sing and dance along. Occasionally, a comedy act performs on Sunday nights instead of music.
Owner Cruz says that in addition to all the fun inside the lounge, one of the biggest draws is how accessible this high-quality entertainment is.
“We keep our door fees extremely reasonable, usually between $5 and $15. And best of all, we have two lots across the street with free parking and security. You can’t get that anywhere else in Downtown Long Beach,” Cruz says.
If you’re looking for a fun night out at Roscoe’s Jazz Lounge, here are a few tips:
Check their website, roscoesjazzlounge.com or Instagram @roscoes_jazz_lounge for a calendar of the month’s events.
Expect a small cover fee and two-drink minimum at the bar to support the lounge.
You can have the best of both worlds! There is a dining area halfway between Roscoe’s Jazz Lounge and the restaurant where you can eat your food and experience the music!
Parking is available directly across the street on Broadway between Lime Ave. and Olive Ave.
If you’re looking for a unique experience, inquire about renting out the lounge for parties, fundraisers and more!