|Brian Hebb and Shawn Mediaclast
“If Ibiza was an airport, this will be what it might look like.” That’s what Brian Hebb said last October about Cowfish, the coffeehouse, gallery and dance club he and Shawn Mediaclast planned to open in the winter. The process took longer than expected — Hebb and Mediaclast chalk that up to a “naïve expectation” about the processes involved — but Cowfish is finally here.
Cowfish’s downtown home at 62 W. Broadway is now an appealing, cool, modern, hip and airy space with calm blue walls, white furniture and silver tables. Circles abound: the long, white bar curves to meet patrons walking in the door, and the wall that separates the dance floor from the bar area has a certain round-windowed, aeronautical appeal. The theme reaches to the DJ booth, silver and shiny, and the hubcap-shaped wall sconces.
“You don’t feel like you’re in a tract house living room,” Hebb says, and he’s right. “Ibizan airport” has been achieved — though it’s unlikely any modern airport would have anything like the quirky art on display on Cowfish’s freshly painted walls. Mediaclast says the art is in some ways a “best of” the permanent collection of his other business, the Museum of Unfine Art, and also includes a featured show (currently work by Ricardo Di Napoli). An old portrait someone found in the trash and gave to Mediaclast hangs over the espresso machine; on a facing wall, a painting of a familiar photo of Roots drummer Questlove looks quizzically at the other characters with whom he shares a wall.
Cowfish’s split personality means that at 5 pm, it changes from coffeeshop (serving local, organic Equator coffee) to dance club and bar for the over-21 crowd. The short but appealing food menu offers sandwiches and soups; the drink list, the work of head bartender Melanie Mikell, continues the airport theme with handful of drinks named for airports: the LaGuardia, the Charles de Gaulle. Theme nights are on the schedule Wednesday through Sunday, and the bar will host a variety of local and visiting DJs. Mediaclast says he thinks Cowfish’s clientele will be “a really broad spectrum of people” who will come for the “focused” daytime atmosphere and the different atmosphere the venue offers at all hours.
And there is, of course, an actual cowfish, swimming in the fishtank behind the bar. The sweet-faced sea creature — it looks like a yellow pickle that wants to kiss you — loves people, Hebb says. The cowfish is on the smallish side, but he’s a cheery and perfectly odd mascot for a welcome addition to downtown. — Molly Templeton
Cowfish celebrates its grand opening with music from Mood Area 52 and DJs at 8 pm Thursday, April 15. 21+. The coffeeshop will be open to all ages from 8 am-5 pm beginning Monday, April 19.