Phog Lounge celebrated its 9th birthday on Wednesday and they opened their doors for a quasi open-house to celebrate the festivities. Patrons, employees, community members and art enthusiasts alike ventured to Phog to help celebrate the birthday of what many consider to be the premiere de facto art house in the core of the city.
Tom Lucier and Frank Incitti are both the co-owners of Phog and the duo has a steady pulse on the Windsor artistic community.
Regularly hosting musical performances and allowing artists to display visual art on their walls has helped establish Phog as an outlet for Windsor visual artists and musicians alike, while allowing for comedy shows and even theatrical productions has allowed for a more niche crowd to be lured into the facility.
“Phog is an integral part of the community here as far as arts and music… as a venue for performing and displaying [art].” expressed Windsor artist Stephen Hargreaves, adding, “More importantly than any of that, it’s a place where artists and fans of art in the city culminate and communicate.”
In 2009, Phog won CBC Radio 3’s Searchlight Contest for the Best Live Music Venue in Canada while garnering CJAM Radio’s Jammy Award for the Best Music Venue in Windsor over six times.
Hargreaves has seen many artistic projects and collaborations birthed within the downtown bar and he believes that as a hub, Phog tends to attract Windsor artists of all stripes. “A lot of very interesting projects have been birthed, or have at least been conceived…at the bar, Phog Lounge. Whereas a lot of other places it seems to be just about partying, here, people come together and it’s turned this place into a hub for Windsor’s artistic community.”
In regards to celebrating its ninth birthday, Phog owner Tom Lucier said the matter was both laughable and disappointing because “we’re one of the oldest surviving businesses downtown, in the top fifteen in terms of [name recognition].”
“There’s a lot of places older in name, but not necessarily in ownership,” commented Lucier, adding, “To me it’s a sad fact that we’re one of the oldest businesses…that’s what I think of when you talk about age and longevity…I think comparatively. I think about downtown and I wish that there were way more businesses that survived because those are the places that inspired us to come downtown and be here.”
While Lucier believes that Phog has “some weird obligation” to both the core and to the artistic community, he concedes that he believes that if Phog were to close, the void would be filled by other venues and promoters alike.
“We keep doing this [year after year] even though you might break even,” expressed Lucier, adding, “Lots of people would have given up a long time ago because breaking even isn’t good enough.”
Both Lucier and Incitti immensely care about the artistic community and that fact is expressed through their dealings with patrons and artists alike.
“We’re here because we love the interactions that we have with the people,” said Luicier, adding, “[it’s] fabulous because we care about the artistic side of the city.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.