The leather is sleek, the lighting is warm, the metal is hard, and the tile is smooth. The interior of the new East Side bar/nightclub ICON has a classic modern feel. “Visually,” says designer Marjorie Bergen, “it should be a playground.”
The white marble floor greets visitors, the open-ceiling concept exposes metal girders, and the plush seating is warm and inviting. The $45,000 audio and visual system, which pumps the best hits from the ‘80s and ‘70s, controls the Bulgaria-imported, 10-foot-high, multi-colored wall of lights, bordering the dance floor. Five, single, unisex bathrooms are ideas borrowed from Las Vegas and Indianapolis clubs. When the Belgium-made, glass-bathroom doors lock, the glass “fogs,” allowing for privacy. Suits, cocktail dresses, designer jeans, and dress shoes are the norm for this over-30 crowd.
The idea for the bar came from Dean Brinker, co-owner of Brinker’s Jewelers. Brinker plans to make the former Harrison-Village shopping complex a “one-stop-shopping area,” now known as 111 South. In 2007, he has added a café, a home store, and, most recently, ICON.
To do this, he tapped longtime family friend Jason English, owner of an adult nightclub. English, who frequents clubs in Miami and Las Vegas, wanted to bring a “big-city” club atmosphere to Evansville. On a Friday, his white limo can be seen parked in front of ICON while English mingles inside, surrounded by a beautiful entourage.
The re-designed Breaker’s Billards space gives ICON patrons that big-city atmosphere, says Bergen because the interior is so unique to Evansville. “It’s like going on vacation,” she says. Using a blue, white, and silver color palette, Bergen used leather like it’s the world’s only material, covering most of the furniture with it.
The club offers seating for 100, a dance floor, and a stage where bands like the recently reunited cover band, The Pits, perform. United in 1983, The Pits never actually broke up, says lead guitarist and vocalist Gene Baker. When original bass player Fred Schultheis moved to Knoxville, Tenn., in the mid-1990s, The Pits played in Evansville only sporadically. In August 2006, original drummer George Barnett (an attorney), keyboard player Ray Prichett (a business development firm’s project manager), and Baker (a sales consultant) replaced Schultheis with Jon Hyneman (a high school band director). His addition allows the band to play more often in Evansville clubs like ICON in January and F’s Steakhouse in February. Despite their 24-year history, The Pits are not an oldies band, Baker stresses. They love playing the classics, he says, like The Rolling Stones and The Knack but also enjoy current bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Weezer. They’ve also added a video production to their stage shows with an 8-foot tall screen, displaying crowd reactions and television montages. It’s a great fit for the trendy ICON, where Baker likes to play. “It’s great to see the 30 and above crowd out and dancing,” he says.
In operation for just one month when we went to press, English is still adjusting ICON’s hours of operation. Closed only on Mondays, the club is typically open from 3 p.m.-3 a.m. Tues.-Sat. On Sunday, the bar opens at 3 p.m., and English is still unsure when to close this night.
But there’s no question about what English hopes the bar will be. “It’s just a matter if Evansville supports it,” he says. “Everyone comes back from big cities, saying, ‘They have this and that.’ Well, you build them a big-city bar, let’s see if they like that.”