Fans of The Green Frog have known for some time that something was afoot after the bar closed in December 2017.
Here’s the scoop: Erin Gill says it began with a text message late one December evening when she was working at the Village Inn on Northwest Avenue from a musician friend of hers, asking if she’d heard about the Green Frog closing. She joked to her former business partner in Olympia about it, not really being serious because she was just starting to get back on her financial feet after moving to Bellingham and being unemployed for a few months, She’d helped open the music venue Rhythm & Rye four years ago in Olympia, and she didn’t think she could book, manage, scrape together business loans and who knows what else.
As it happened, she says, “a monumental amount of support came from nearly every source I mentioned the idea to. Andy Geertsen, the owner of Rhythm and Rye, offered help in the form of advice, contacts, equipment trades, and moral support. (Former Green Frog owner) James Hardesty offered to continue to book music.”
“A few of the Frog’s biggest fans stepped up as business partners. Musicians started to get excited. People showed up to help clean and organize. Barely two weeks after we signed the lease, I had a mock-up flyer for monthly performances. It’s been blowing my mind since day one just how much this community wants this space, and how quickly it stepped up.”
“We are doing everything we can to keep the spirit of the space alive,” she says.
The Firefly Lounge opens on 4/20 with the Staxx Brothers and Babycakes. Saturday features her “amazing hometown band DBST, and their friends from Seattle, Down North.”
The Firefly will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and from 4 p.m to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday at 1015 N. State St., with “the same focus on quality music, good beers, and a knowledgeable selection of whiskeys.”
“I bring a strong passion for creativity and hospitality, so I want to see us join Bellingham’s cocktail scene, and bring more types of performance into the space. I want everyone to feel welcome and safe, and be able to experience the magic that is a live performance. I also want these performers to be able to eat, so there will still be cover charges on some nights.”
But, she adds, with new ownership and new ideas does come some changes. Unfortunately, there will no longer be grilled cheese sandwiches because, Gill says, the numbers just didn’t make sense, and the partners agreed to focus on keeping the space alive. However, they are partnering with food trucks “to bring the yummies in.”
They also made the decision to become a “nightclub” for the purposes of the venue’s liquor license, which allows them to operate without a kitchen, but also means that the venue is no longer all-ages.
She says the floor plan really hasn’t changed, but she’s modifying the bar a little bit to speed up service (avoiding the notorious long lines), and the gorgeous back deck is still open, with more seating space. They are giving a lot of thought to the sound system and how the room works acoustically.
“I love the small city community, and love being part of making things great,” she says.
“I think that a happy life is made up of many small happy experiences: a good cocktail, a cold beer, a margarita on a sunny day, dancing to a new favorite song, meeting a new friend, finally getting out with old friends, discovering something new, or enjoying something familiar.
“All of these are contributions to someone’s life that I can help make happen, and I stumbled into an AMAZING opportunity to do that for my new community.”
“Got a four year lease, so I’m here for the long haul!”