The combo of an establishment being a restaurant, club, and a music venue was a very unique thing in Providence in the late 2000s. To do such a endeavor in such a small space would be deemed impossible, but it worked at Local 121. Though it hasn’t done live music in more than two years, the Washington Street joint in the former Dreyfus Hotel once served as an integral part of both the Providence music and nightlife scene’s resurgence thanks to current Columbus Cooperative member and former 121 manager Bryan Minto. The place was and is a hub for downtown entertainment, stretching back to its Lovelife dance nights after opening in 2007, while shifting from live music in the lower speakeasy to both dance halls in the latter and in the tap room.
On top of being a top of the line establishment in downtown Providence, Local 121 also pioneered the “farm to fork” movement that many restaurants in the Creative Capital aspire to today. The place served as both a pioneer for the city’s culinary progression as well as a place where the city’s music scene could thrive.
And everyone who stepped foot in the room, it seemed, instantly became part of a family.
“The best part about working there were the friends and family I made and the camaraderie we had,” says former long-time bartender Lara Pietropaolo. “I made some really great connections there and really grew as a person. Our first chef there is making my wedding cake and my co-bartender Jess [Abernethy] is making my wedding dress. It was home base for all of us and I spent every holiday and birthday there.”
Pietropaolo adds: “Dox Ellis and DJ Nook are obviously my favorite DJs because they’d play whatever I wanted to hear. Even if it was Steely Dan or Drake all night. Also getting to eat delicious food for eight years was a perk.”
For long-time host Mark Ferrara, commonly known as Ref, the job at 121 was more like a regular hangtime with friends and comrades.
“I never felt like I was working at Local 121,” Ferrara says. “I was too busy hosting a party.”
This Friday (March 10) and Saturday (March 11) will be the last for Local 121. The place won’t go out without a bang, though. Friday features some old school hip-hop spun by J.R. (who happens to run The Avery in Providence’s west end) in the tap room with new jams being brought courtesy of Comfort Club in the speakeasy downstairs. The final night will have original spinner DJ Nook in the tap room while hip-hop charismatics Music Please give the people what they need in the speakeasy.
Even if you don’t remember ever being at Local 121, there’s a good chance you probably have. Give the place a proper send off this weekend.