TALENT — A popular live music venue is expected to reopen here next month a little over a year after it closed.
New owner Stefano Cipollone will retain the Avalon name for the 80-seat restaurant at 105 W. Valley View Road noted for its musical offerings since 2006.
"We have been getting a lot of calls from musicians," said Cipollone. "We've seen a few of those here ourselves. We are going to keep that going."
One local musician was glad to hear about the reopening.
"I think we can use all the live music in the valley that we can get," said guitarist Ed Dunsavage, who played at the venue regularly. "I know Roscoe's closed recently. It's another venue that has gone down."
A soft opening is planned around mid-April after remodeling work is finished and health and alcohol permits are secured, said Cipollone. He anticipates a work crew of 10 to 15 full- and part-time employees.
Then-owner Susan Schaeffer closed the venue in early March 2012. She had purchased it a year earlier from Dal Carver, who opened the space in 2006.
In the kitchen, Cipollone, the chef at Cicily's Pastaria in Medford, will focus on fresh and local products. To that end, he's gotten rid of the walk-in freezer and will be preparing salad dressings and sauces from scratch. He plans to add bread baking later.
"We'll be using local vendors," said Cipollone. Each day that he goes to the restaurant from his south Medford home, Cipollone will stop by Phoenix's Farmers Market to pick up produce.
He described his food offerings as American bar and grill prepared in European style with lots of braising and grilling.
Cipollone grew up in his family's Italian restaurant in Miami. Except for five years as a Winema National Forest hotshot firefighter, he's worked in restaurants from Colorado to Alaska. Locally he's been with the Jacksonville Inn and Helena Darling's catering.
"We chose Talent because it is a beautiful place," said Cipollone. "We can see Paschal Winery from our deck."
A new solid red oak bar has been installed. Lottery machines will be removed and Ashland's Art 2 Business will be hanging paintings.
The restaurant will be open at least six days per week with extended hours on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Guitarist Bill Leonhart has offered advice on the music and is willing to help with lineups, said Cipollone. He said he'd like to get singer Karen Lovely to perform.
"We're also looking at not just the established musicians," said Cipollone. "We'd love to entertain the idea of having people who are trying to get started."
Demand from customers will drive musical bookings.
"We want to see what the market, the customers want," said Cipollone. "If they want live music we'll start booking."
Former owner Carver built up a nice core group of music fans, said Dunsavage.
"A lot of people really enjoyed going to the Avalon," Dunsavage said. "I hope he will be able to bring it back to what it was before."
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.