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Vinyl record shop, craft cocktail lounge coming to Gainesville square
Unexpected idea, unexpected place
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Jim Montgomery, pictured on Feb. 7, 2018, is opening the Vinyl Lounge on the second floor of Avocados. The restaurant general manager is planning a tapas menu and craft cocktail bar for the lounge, which will also feature a large vinyl record collection. - photo by Nick Bowman

If you haven’t been able to find any new records in the area to add to your collection, blame Jim Montgomery over at Avocados.

For the past eight months, the longtime Atlanta restaurant runner has been settling in as the new general manager of the Bradford Street spot.

Avocados has long been a lunch fixture on the Gainesville square. Lunch service has been “solid” and “reliable” for the business, Montgomery said in an early February interview, with a comfortable price point for the business crowd. It’s Avocados’ bread and butter, but he believes it can offer more.

The restaurant has been putting more energy into its dinner offerings — testing out new dishes and cutting what doesn’t work. Staff members have gone through additional training ahead of spring and summer, when the outdoor patio business picks up and the square hits its stride. As the weather improves, Montgomery is also hoping to capitalize on the downtown dining district changes approved by the Gainesville City Council in 2017 to allow public alcohol consumption outdoors.

An updated menu, a stronger staff, plans to make the most of summer — these are tried-and-true ways to boost traffic at any restaurant.

But there’s something a little different turning up at Avocados: the Vinyl Lounge.

For years, boxes and chairs and whatever else that needed storing were tucked away on the second floor of the building — a storage room with worn wood floors, exposed brick walls and second-story windows looking out on the square.

It’s a perfect space for a lounge, and for the past few weeks Montgomery and staff at the restaurant have been plugging away at upgrades to the long second floor and its open floor plan — a coat of paint on a wall here, string lights hung there.

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A record shop, bar and tapas menu are in the works for the second floor of Avocados, which is soon to become the Vinyl Lounge. - photo by Nick Bowman

And all the while, he’s been building up a vinyl record collection. Gathering up thousands of records from estate sales and antique shops in the area, Montgomery plans to have records on display and racked in the lounge. All of them will be for sale, just as the art on the first floor is for sale, and the general manager is planning a tidy online retail option to go with sales from the lounge.

The Vinyl Lounge will have a second streetside entrance but will also be accessible up the main stairs in Avocados. The lounge will have a tapas menu and a bar focusing on craft cocktails. Montgomery called it a “lounge for creative thinkers”

Montgomery is working through the last of the paperwork with the city of Gainesville to get the lounge running, but he said he expects to have the Vinyl Lounge open in the coming weeks.

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The Vinyl Lounge above Avocados on the Gainesville square will have records for sale at retail, a tapas menu and craft cocktails from a bar. The new space is being put together by Avocados General Manager Jim Montgomery. - photo by Nick Bowman
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