Combining music, food, art and wine for a decadent way to spend a Paso evening
PASO ROBLES — A brand new underground, members-only wine, and jazz lounge has delivered a sudden and powerful jolt to the cultural heartbeat of Downtown Paso Robles. Thursday, Sept. 30, marked the grand opening of Libretto on Park Street next to Fish Gaucho.
Owners Corey Jordan and Katelyn Smith have been together for ten years and started AMSTRDM Coffee House and Piano Lounge together in 2020.
“We didn’t plan to open a second location this quickly,” said Jordan, “However, with AMSTRDM, we started to gain major attention from LA and Bay area musicians. Some of the best studio and concert musicians around. AMSTRDM gained notoriety with a high-quality instrument in an intimate and unique setting. We began to quickly outgrow our small venue and began looking for a larger space with a similar intimate vibe. We knew with AMSTRDM that people are willing to pay for a high-quality experience, so we expanded on that platform for Libretto.”
As members enter from the street, they descend a stairway into a comfortably stylish lounge with sexy black booths and settle into the warm, inviting glow of the moody lighting which offers an atmosphere of leisure and sophistication. The old opera house, circa 1919, presents a historic charm and atmosphere while the prominent and beautifully displayed art of Adam Eron Welch breathes a fresh excitement and raw energy into the old haunt.
“The five paintings I made for Corey at Libretto were done in a single two-week push, mostly late at night,” said Welch. “They were hung at the venue while they were still wet, only moments before the first guests arrived. They are ‘abstract soundscapes’—large-scale, immersive abstract mixed-media paintings based on the five pieces of music Corey played on opening night, including my favorite, the ‘Clair de Lune’ by Claude Debussy. For these paintings, I listened to Corey’s music, closed my eyes, let it wash over me, and tried to imagine the shapes and textures of a landscape I was walking through. Then I opened my eyes and painted it.”
“Adam and I worked together at Bristol Cider in 2015,” said Jordan. “We shared a love for classical music. I really love his artwork. Adam designed my first album cover in 2017, and we own many of his works. We held a solo show for Adam in our home apartment in December of 2018 and sold out the 40+ works in 3 hours. His artwork hangs at AMSTRDM. I approached him a few months ago about Libretto, and he painted us five beautiful custom works for Libretto.”
“Seeing my work on the walls of Libretto, as the venue began to fill up with guests, was a truly moving experience,” said Welch, “because I used to be a homeless person in Paso Robles when I first arrived in 2007. I lived out of my car. I’m sure some of the same people attending the event at Libretto used to see me on Niblick panhandling.”
The room flows naturally from the members’ personal wine lockers at one end to the sleek bar at the other. Of course, the centerpiece and the very soul of Libretto is the 2012 Steinway model D concert grand piano that graces the stage.
According to owners Jordan and Smith, the piano was part of Steinway’s personal Southern California concert fleet featuring ten identical Steinway D pianos. Only the finest concert grands made it to this personal Steinway concert fleet. When world-renowned pianists come to Los Angeles to play the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic or the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Steinway takes the artists to that room with ten identical pianos to select which piano they would like to perform on. The piano now housed at Libretto is one of those ten. More often than not, it was top selection by some of the most talented piano players in the world. Lang Lang, Olga Kern, Yuja Wang, John Williams, and many more have played on the piano that now calls Paso Robles its home.
Chef Michael Jason Chenaux served up a five-course meal for the grand opening.
“I have known Jason for over 15 years,” said Jordan. “I used to work with him at Artisan in 2005. I knew he had the culinary prowess to execute the standard we needed here at Libretto. His food is phenomenal, and he has the creative flare.”
Aleksander Winery, the family winery of Al Bjekovic, and former Los Angeles Laker, and two-time NBA Champion Sasha Vujacic, poured for the members as they mingled and sunk into their booths.
“Al and Sasha are friends,” said Jordan. “They have a family winery up here in Paso—Aleksander Wines. We met through the coffee shop. They came in one day and loved the coffee and the vibe and came back a few times for the jazz evenings. Sasha asked when he could hear me play piano, as I don’t play at my venue typically. I told him I would play if he poured his family wines. He agreed. The grand opening of Libretto was the execution of that agreement.”
The highlight of the evening was Jordan’s performance on the Steinway. There were no clinking of glasses, no shifting of silverware and dishes, no shifting in seats. There were only the masterful notes of the most brilliant and beautiful piano performance this writer and musician has ever experienced.
Jordan has performed over 85 piano concerts ranging from home concerts to opening the Paderewski Festival in 2018. Pre-COVID, he worked in the film industry, working on arrangement, production, and composition for movie trailers specifically.
Libretto will be hosting live music every Friday and Saturday night when they are open to the public. Reservations can be made, and a schedule of the entertainers can be found at librettopaso.com, although memberships have sold out at this point.