Chris Kattan is a terrible actor, but he may have had a brilliant idea.
Remember that late-'90s movie A Night at the Roxbury? Remember how somebody thought it would be a good idea to take a mildly entertaining three-minute Saturday Night Live skit about two head-bobbing brothers who go to various nightclubs and stretch it into a two-hour movie?
SNL has done it yet again with MacGruber, which sounds like the cinematic equivalent of throwing hot bleach in your eyes. But we digress.
Kattan is the little guy from Roxbury. At the end of the movie, he and his brother (played by Will Ferrell) open a nightclub that looks like the outside of a nightclub. That's the brilliant idea. And that's why on just about any Friday or Saturday night you decide to visit Brixx (5110 Washington), there will likely be a line at least 25 people long waiting to get inside.
Brixx was originally intended to be an upscale sports bar of sorts, but has essentially morphed into an open-air nightclub.
We talked with affable Brixx owner Chase Lovullo about how his bar's unique design came to be. "Ei8ht (5102 Washington) was next door and we knew we really couldn't compete with a $1.5 million building," he says. "We actually started as an upscale sports bar, but it's definitely converted more to a patio nightclub. It's lost the sports-bar feel."
Indeed it has. And even seven months after its opening, people are still eating up the novelty. "We were at Pearl Bar (4216 Washington) and Salt (4218 Washington)," says Melissa Bond as her friend and oil-industry colleague Erica Herlugson nods in agreement.
"This one has a better bar, a better crowd," adds Bond. "Compared to the other bars on Washington, this one, it's near the top."
By 11:30 p.m. on a recent Saturday evening, Brixx is absolutely stuffed with people, none of whom look particularly interested in watching sports. Even after 1 a.m., the line doesn't wane.
Brixx is set up as an icehouse-size building at the center of the lot — it even has those icehouse doors that slide up to open — surrounded by patio space. The building's interior is broken up into a bar area and a dance floor, with the dance floor quartered off by lounge seating.
This is a far better idea in theory than in practice, on account of all the gyrating crotches near your face if you happen to be sitting down when the DJ, pumping stylized versions of songs like LMFAO's "Shots" or the Outfield's "Your Love," hits a strong set and the dance floor becomes packed.
But the most enjoyable aspect of Brixx is how it incorporates the exterior into its overall ergonomics. Outdoor patios at most other nightspots are a supplemental benefit at best, but Brixx's is as vital a part of the venue as the dance floor.
And beyond just providing fresh air, Brixx's open-air atmosphere fosters a certain amount of low-key charm. Tonight, for example, there are not only a few guys in baseball hats, but also a guy wearing open-toed sandals as well as a group of people dressed in white pants, summer dresses and big hats celebrating the Kentucky Derby.
We had no idea people did this.
"No, I don't always come out dressed like this," laughs Joshua Scates, an apparent Kentucky Derby enthusiast and repeat Brixx customer.
"I love this place — it's great," he adds before bouncing away.
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Washington Avenue will eventually fall upon an inevitable downturn in popularity; that much is a given. But Brixx's user-friendly design should help the lounge sustain a long and fashionable existence.
Two things need to be mentioned. First, DJ Tony Styles, whom a few of you poor souls may recognize as being one of 104.1 KRBE's spinners, will be behind Brixx's turntables Thursdays and Saturdays for the next few weeks. He is just about one of the best at cultivating an engaging, dancetastic atmosphere. No joke, the night we were there, part of his playlist looked like this: T-Pain, EMF, Dr. Dre, Snap, Salt-N-Pepa and that song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air where Will and Carlton participate in that contest. He never missed a beat. Follow him on Twitter at @tonystyles. Second, recent Rocks Off Artist of the Week Omotai performs at Walter's on Washington (4215 Washington) this Friday. You absolutely should risk getting your car towed to see this band.