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Jazz club opens in downtown

The white horse-drawn carriage outside 136 S. Main St. was reminiscent of the New Orleans French Quarter.

The swinging music and bright nighttime skyline had the feel of New York City.

But the dozens of music buffs were actually in downtown Suffolk Thursday, celebrating the long-awaited grand opening of Main Street Jazz Restaurant.

“Let the good times roll,” said Mayor Bobby Ralph, moments before owners Sherwin Turner and Horace Balmer snipped the ribbon on downtown’s newest entertainment venue.

The $1.5 million renovation to the three-story, 9,600-square-foot building – originally built around 1900 as a wagon and cart factory – began last summer.

The bottom floor is an upscale restaurant and bar, where waitresses were still placing folded black napkins on tables as the doors opened. The second floor is the entertainment hub, where nationally known jazz artists will take the stage on weekends and locals will perform during the week.

“We’ve had our trials and tribulations getting open,” said Turner. “But we’re going to bring you some of best entertainment in Hampton Roads. We hope you enjoy what we’re doing.”

Though construction glitches delayed the opening by several weeks, the packed house attending Thursday’s event didn’t seemed bothered by the delays.

“It’s great, a class act” said downtown resident Ernie Hefferon, listening to New York-based organist Seleno Clarke.

“When you looked down on Main Street, this could be any major city in the world. Luckily, we were just five blocks from our house.”

Steve Gellas, owner of Pisces Seafood Restaurant, agreed.

“It’s gorgeous. They have put together a beautiful facility … that’s going to bring people from all over Hampton Roads to downtown Suffolk.”