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Two Bridges Luncheonette adds music and comedy to its menu

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Music is coming to Dimes Square.

Trigger, the mononymous, conical hat-wearing operator of the new Two Bridges Luncheonette, is expanding his menu to include live performances — mostly music, plus a bit of comedy.

Trigger formerly owned the Continental in the East Village at Third Avenue and St. Mark’s Place. It had a long run as a live music venue, but toward the end, he turned it into a dive bar serving cheap shots.

More recently, he opened a couple of small takeout ice cream places called Lucky Star, one at St. Mark’s Place, the other at Clinton and Delancey Streets. But they proved short-lived.

Trigger’s latest new space, at 135 Division Street, though, which he opened this fall — and where you can get bagels and a schmear or soft-serve ice cream, with a can of PBR, if you like — is a bit bigger than the two Lucky Stars. Plus, it’s in hip Dimes Square, a place Trigger loves.

“It’s the last bohemian neighborhood in New York,” he said.

Jill Fiore played a residency at the Division Street luncheonette on Fridays during January. (Photo courtesy of Jill Fiore)

“So, I’m sitting in my luncheonette a few weeks ago,” he recalled, in a recent interview. “I was going to see a band — my friend’s in a band — and I thought, there’s nothing going on south of Delancey Street. … I don’t have a big space. We could hold 50 people if we took the tables out.”

And so, Trigger’s hiatus from live music is ending.

“It’s like ‘The Godfather Part II,'” he quipped. “‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.’ … And my hearing damage is relieved that it will be unplugged — no cabinets [as in, really large amps] or amps,” he added. “We’ll have unplugged rock bands.

“I’ve got hearing damage from 27 years of Continental,” he said. “If there was anything I could change about Continental, it would be that. I got into earplugs too late.”

Trigger earlier this fall when he was getting ready to open the Two Bridges Luncheonette. The place sports a retro decor. (Photo by The Village Sun)

While there won’t be monster amps and a “wall of sound,” there will be microphones for the vocals and for acoustic guitars, “if there’s a pickup or a port,” he noted.

“We’ll have percussion,” he added. “We just won’t have drums.”

The music series is being called Live at the Luncheonette.

The whole lower-volume approach is being driven by “being in a residential building and my hearing loss,” he noted.

Trigger knows from running smaller music venues — specifically, its challenges.

“It’s really hard to keep the small- and medium-sized places going,” he said. “Iggy Pop and Guns ’N Roses that we had at Continental, you don’t have that every night. Those shows, if you get them, you’re lucky. Just being busy on the weekends isn’t enough. There aren’t many [music] rooms left in Manhattan.”

But he has it all planned out.

Wednesday nights will be comedy — more along the line of comedy skits as opposed to stand-up — courtesy of Brooklyn Comedy Collective.

“Who doesn’t love a good laugh?” Trigger noted.

As for how that connection came about, he said, a young woman who bought something at the luncheonette told him she does comedy — and one thing led to another, he offered her the slot.

Thursday, hosted by Gary Hood, will be open-mic night for singer/songwriters.

“It’s not meant for spoken word,” Trigger noted of the open mic. “Nothing against spoken word. I’m doing a music room.”

The music Friday nights will be booked by local musician Jill Fiore, who knows a lot of bands, he said. Again, the focus will be on singer/songwriters and guitarists.

Trigger personally will book the bands for Saturdays.

On either Friday or Saturday he’d also like to have karaoke but is still actively looking for a host. For those interested in applying, the person should have “charisma, good energy, positivity and a sense of humor,” he said.

There will be a separate music booker for Sunday, and yet another person will handle the performers for Mondays and Tuesdays.

“They’re all professional bookers — for decades,” he said.

The luncheonette takes on a different atmosphere for the nightly entertainment. (Photo courtesy of Jill Fiore)

Opening night is tonight, Thurs., Jan. 4, at 8 p.m. But Sat., Jan. 6, will be the big bash, featuring a local rock icon, a guitarist about whom Trigger would only say, “He’s well known. Like a big brother to me. It will be easy to fill the room. … The opening night is a big deal,” he noted.

The plan, generally speaking, is to “start early and end early,” with the music stopping by around 10 p.m.

Adding music and comedy will also be good for the bottom line, since, he noted, Dimes Square tends to cool down when the warm weather ends.

“There are not offices in that neighborhood for people to come to work,” he said of the decrease in foot traffic during the colder months.

“I’m doing it ’cause I miss it,” he said of rebooting his career as a music impresario. “I think it’ll surely increase business. But it’s not like a day at the beach, when you put on shows. It’s a lot of work. I’m working with a lot of friends [in doing it].

“The music, I’ve got to give it direction,” he said. “But it will take on its own shape — with a little help from me.”

It’s important for the performers to feel comfortable and enjoy playing there, he stressed, noting, “Do the musicians feel at home and have a good experience? Do you treat them with respect, pay them right? When you’re working with creative people, there’s nothing better.

“I’m not 20 or 30 anymore,” he shrugged, “but it’s a good way to make a living, when you love your work.”

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