A new coverless vegan jazz club has just opened in Bushwick

At first glance, the concept behind Ornithology Jazz Club, a new musical destination in Brooklyn, sounds like an oxymoron.

Found smack in the middle of a neighborhood, Bushwick, generally known for its allegiance to EDM music, the only thing weirder than its function is Ornithology’s menu, which is entirely vegan.

And yet, a more behind-the-scenes look at the spot paints a much bigger picture. As first reported by Grub Street, the space is the brainchild of Rie Yamaguchi-Borden and her husband Mitchell Borden. The couple are no strangers to the jazz lifestyle: Mitchell opened Smalls, arguably one of Manhattan’s most iconic jazz clubs, in 1994. He also founded Fat Cat, another top destination in the West Village, in 2000.

The duo moved to Bushwick in 2019 and, once the pandemic hit, started a nonprofit to help jazz musicians find gigs in the city during troubled times and beyond. The Bordens then began hosting weekly jam sessions at the LGBTQ-friendly Bodeguita bar, and eventually bought the space. They reopened it as Ornithology Jazz Club two months ago.

In addition to musicians taking the stage every night (check out an updated performance schedule here), the destination hopes to differentiate itself with an elevated gourmet menu. In general, jazz clubs aren’t necessarily known for their food offerings, but at Ornithology, the fare is meant to be just as exciting as the music.

Customers can order a variety of sandwiches prepared by Matt Clifford Monday through Thursday, while veggie burgers from Anthony James are offered on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays, the on-site cooking is handled by a rotating cast of chefs who can present their unique dishes to the public. Here, the kitchen is also a stage.

As exciting as the whole concept is, there are two particular aspects to Ornithology that really set it apart: Firstly, there are absolutely no cover charges – a nearly unheard of feature when it comes to jazz destinations in New York. Plus, the stage is up for grabs every night after the scheduled act ends.

As for the name of the space (ornithology is the scientific study of birds), the Bordens reveal via email that it appeals to “seekers of wisdom, which includes all artists dedicated to exploring the meaning of life “. .”

While it’s clearly trying to slightly reinvent the notion of jazz clubs, what’s most exciting about Ornithology is that it’s able to deliver a modern take on the genre while harkening back to earlier times. simple, when the music really took center stage.

“It’s a sanctuary of beautiful minds,” the couple said of the club. “A lot of people told us that birdwatching reminded them of New York’s Golden Age, when all the artists came together to inspire each other.”

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