First Look: The Heavy Anchor on Gravois Soft Opens Friday


  • Diana Benanti

A few weeks ago we clued you into a new live music venue and bar about to open on Gravois, The Heavy Anchor, and now, the wait is nearly over. The liquor is ordered, the walls are painted, and custom glasses from Boulevard wait expectantly on the shelves. Neophiles can sate their curiosity at the soft opening this Friday, April 22, or you can wait a fortnight to meet your new drinking buddy at the grand opening on May 6.

The young couple opening the bar, Jodie Whitworth and Josh Timbrook, have never built a business before, so the past few months have been a baptism by fire for the pair. "I mean, it's a learning process; a lot has been learning as we go," said Whitworth, who recently left her job at Jupiter Studios in order to devote her time to the Heavy Anchor. The couple are the bar's sole employees, and will remain so for the forseeable future. Timbrook, a local musician, will run sound while Whitworth tends bar.

Whitworth said she hopes they'll have the kinks worked out by the grand opening, which will feature a free show with local legends Bunnygrunt and Illinoisans Ravenhill. The Heavy Anchor already has a few events planned for May; an alumni happy hour for graduates of the Southern Illnois University system, movie nights (the venue is outfitted with theater seats and a projector), Eleven Magazine's Bevo pub crawl on May 14, and a veritable who's who of underground noisemakers on May 21--Glass Teeth, Egg Chef, and Bug Chaser.

The former home of sometimes-venue Antarctica has gotten a facelift--the blank white facade is now cadet blue, and the front door artfully graffiti-ed by artist Jared Wright. The undersea theme continues indoors--a giant squid glares from the north wall, the mermaid below looks serene despite the number of creatures undulating in her painted hair. Another wall has been reserved for promotional art from Schalfly and Pabst, and Whitworth said she wants the decor to eventually rival Venice Café's immoderate gimcrackery.


The bar and venue are split in two by a garage door, recently embellished with a mural of an octopus toppling a city with it's tentacles, painted by Travis Lawrence. Whitworth said they'll open the door for popular shows, and while there's never a cover for the bar, you'll likely have to shell out 5 clams for access to the venue side. The only way to the cigarette garden is through the venue, so cover enforcement may prove a bit of a sticky wicket. The owners hope to cater to the Bleeding Deacon-Silver Ballroom crowd--young, thirsty and liberally-inked city dwellers for whom live music is the raison d'etre.

Like most watering holes with local ethos and no kitchen, The Heavy Anchor will offer Gus' Pretzels, Billy Goat chips and Dogtown Pizza. They'll sell Fat Tire in cans, have Heavy Anchor pins to festive-up that tatty punk jacket, and, in case your Franzia problem is so out of control that you drink it in full view of strangers, boxed wine. A wiser human (Liz Lemon) might call this "hipster nonsense," but we're just taking odds on which bar will be the first to bust out stationary bikes for the first Tour de Franzia of 2011--Handlebar in the Grove or Heavy Anchor on Gravois? Welcome to the neighborhood, Heavy Anchor!

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