Marc Canzoneri sits in one of the large, deep red, tufted leather booths inside The Rose. Edison bulbs fill the dark space with a golden hue, the light bouncing off the chandeliers and ornate wallpaper.
“To me, it has a very sexy New York City lounge feel to it,” Canzoneri said. “It’s a very sexy, kind of intimate room.”
Canzoneri is taking the reins of the bar, which has been closed for the past winter season. The future of the downtown building nestled on Broadway near Cache Street that hosts local go-tos — such as Pinky G’s Pizzeria, The Whiskey Barber and Snake River Roasting Company — has been uncertain in recent years amid the pandemic.
Now with new ownership, The Rose, along with the Pink Garter Theatre next door, which closed in early 2020, are slated to officially reopen upstairs this spring and be run by locals who say they care deeply about the establishments.
Comedian, actor and director Andrew Munz recently took over the lease of the Pink Garter Theatre with his new non-profit Tumbleweed Creative Arts and has already begun hosting comedy and music showcases.
Canzoneri, a former Rose bartender and local DJ who also goes by Marco Flexx, said he plans to start shaking and stirring cocktails for customers on June 1.
“It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m focusing 100% of my attention right now on getting the bar reopened,” he said. “We’re going to do some light remodel work here. Not going to change too much, but I am going to freshen it up a bit.”
“A roller coaster of feelings”
“I’m anxious, I’m nervous, super stoked. It’s a roller coaster of feelings,” Canzoneri said.
In reopening The Rose, Canzoneri said his “heart and soul” are his two passions: craft cocktails and DJing.
“The Rose was the pioneer of craft cocktails in Jackson. It all started right here,” he said. “A lot of the bartenders that worked here who moved on to other bars in Jackson, they took those skills with them and what they learned and they elevated the cocktail experience here. So to me, I want to preserve the history of The Rose.”
But he’s keeping his lips zipped on what the signature cocktails will be for now, saying they’ll be a secret until he debuts his new drink list.
“The first menu I put out is probably going to be a greatest hits kind of menu,” Canzoneri said. “I’ve created cocktail lists for many, many bars over the past 20 years. Maybe we’ll throw a couple of new ones in there, some things that I’ve been working on. But I really want to give them the bangers.”
One major change he’s planning? Building a whole new DJ set up in the front of the bar.
“I want DJs to feel special that they are DJing here,” Conzoneri said. “So the days of, you know, wheeling in a mobile DJ booth and just putting up a folding table are over. We’re going to have a permanent DJ booth, and it’s going to be legit.
He acknowledged the explosion of Jackson DJs in recent years and said he plans to host a variety of local talent at The Rose.
“I have my A-list and then I want to support the up-and-coming DJs,” Canzoneri said.
“The next Rose family”
Canzoneri said he plans to start bringing in bartenders, barbacks, cocktail servers and security in May. He also said he’s open to interviewing people who may lack service industry experience, saying he’s looking forward to creating “the next Rose family.”
“I’m hiring people that care about what they do, that are passionate about what they do, and take pride in their job. That is the most important thing to me,” he said.
As Jackson gears up for what will likely be a busy summer season, well-trained security will be a top priority, according to Canzoneri.
“Making sure they are really paying attention,” he said. “They need to be observing the crowd to catch things before they happen. That is the key to security, is seeing things develop.”
“People pour out of the other bars and come over here at 11 or 12,” he said. “They’ve already been drinking all night and they come in here and it’s a different vibe.”
Canzoneri said he knows nightlife can get rowdy so “our job is to keep everybody safe, employees and our guests.”
He said it’s especially important for him to create an inclusive space for people to hang out.
“The Rose is open to everybody. All races, creeds, religions, sexual orientations,” Canzoneri said. “I want you to feel like you have a place to go.”