Co-owner Cassius Williams, The protégé of a SIR Corp. (Jack Astor's, Alice Fazooli's, Reds , Far Niente ) executive, is well-acquainted with nightlife economics. "We studied the area, and understood that it houses a lot of wealthy professionals," he says, "but there were no classy, sexy lounges in the area, and we felt that it needed one."
When he mentions class and sex appeal my head darts immediately to the red Ferrari out front, and I realize that Liberty Village is morphing away from its industrial and dotcom roots. Locus 144 has a very King West , resto-bar style, but it has high ceilings and lots of open space. The style seems like the fairly predictable modern-rustic dichotomy, but pay closer attention and you recognize the detail.
The tables are made of large, old slabs of barge wood with wagon wheels nailed onto the sides and a pane of glass on top. The space is lit by candlelight at each table and unique chandeliers. Each side is lined with comfortable white leather - the type used for snowmobiles: water and stain resistant. The bar has the common urban apothecary feel. The patio is basically just a table out front, but it's got a decent enough view, and is peaceful on weeknights.
Though the cocktail menu is still a work in progress, there's a decent variety of beer and wine. Beers on tap are Mill Street Organic, Sleeman, Kronenberg and Guiness ($7 +tax for a pint). Glasses of red and white wine are priced between nine and 12 dollars, with bottles climbing up as far as $118 (Amarone-grotto del ninfeo).
This is definitely more of a bar/lounge than a restaurant but the kitchen does have a few offerings that are meant to snack on or share among friends. The food is Italian, tasty, and I'm told by a waitress that all of their ingredients are locally grown, organic and mixed in-house. The suppli (risotto croquettes stuffed with mozzarella) has great texture and tastes delicious with the spicy tomato sugo.
There are other finger foods like crostini and calamari, but also a variety of salads and meat entrées like beef tenderloin and lamb skewers. Cannolis and gelato are the highlights from the dessert menu.
The crowd so far seems to be fairly mixed, but it's obvious that the locals dominate. "I'm looking for anyone aged 25 to 60 who wants to enjoy themselves," Williams says, "As long as they respect the space, I welcome everyone. I hope each person finds something different in this place."
Locus 144's recently-launched weekly tradition is Wednesday night's Project Sound performances. Project Sound is an entertainment group that promotes talented local artists, and their first night at Locus was a huge success.