jazz upstairs goes higher

Despite having its landmark location demolished, Jazz Upstairs is holding on to the recipe of its success – the music-focused ambience and the simple yet great food.

During its formative years, the landmark bar in Lazimpat went by the name, The Upstairs Bar. It was only when the jazz band Cadenza, became a house band, did the name change to Jazz Upstairs. “Also, we wanted to differentiate our place from the rest and the name helped,” says Chhedup Bomzan, the owner. Jazz Upstairs plays all kinds of music but it became popular for Jazzmandu’s musical events, Band Nights, sumptuous momo and aloo dum, and the casual atmosphere that the place attracted. Eventually, Jazz Upstairs became a popular hub amongst music lovers and others.

Backstory

Jazz Upstairs came into being when friends of bar hopper Mr. Bomzan, asked him to start one of his own. He was running a rafting and trekking shop in Thamel at the moment. (He still does; its called Drift Nepal.) Every time he would come back from an adventure, he would take his friends along to bars in Thamel. He chose Lazimpat to start a business because it didn’t have a proper bar then. His mother used to run a grocery store in Lazimpat and the upstairs flat was empty and the rent was low.

Early Days

Bomjom wanted to open a bar that would cater to a small group of people – mostly friends. In time, these friends started bringing their friends and the Jazz Upstairs crowd grew bigger. The other thing is that people wanted a change of place; everything was crowded in Thamel back then and many wanted a new place to go for a drink, to relax and to have a good time and that is exactly what Jazz Upstairs offered. “The word-of mouth promotion helped tremendously,” mentions Mr. Bomjom.

The Haitus

The road expansion decision on the part of the Nepali government led Jazz Upstairs in Lazimpat to shut down for 10 months.
The now refurbished Jazz Upstairs is in the new building that replaced the old one and is more spacious compared to its earlier, smaller self. Jazzmandu and Band Night attendees can now come in larger numbers. If you want to enjoy live music here, mark your Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

The Success Recipe

The modest bar was always satisfied with keeping things simple. They have a single page menu and the items have remained the same. The other thing that worked for the bar was the kind of bands that played there. Music has always been their USP. Over time, Jazz Upstairs became a trusted, cozy, small hangout space. They are now in their 15th year of establishment and Jazz Upstairs has now become a brand. There is a certain level of comfort here. Guests usually know the staff by name, are familiar with the food and drinks on the menu and even with other people that frequent the place; so you grow to like it even if other places might offer better.

Challenges

Mr. Bomjom realizes that he hasn’t been able to cater to his customers’ every need. The topic of discussion here being parking space and the abrupt rules implemented by the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police. “We aren’t given any prior notice and they want us to shoo our customers in the middle of the night. That is not good for business.”

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