"Once I put (the sign) up outside, I was getting cards like crazy," Hester said. "I'd come in to do some work, and 10 to 15 cards would come under the door."
Although local jazz musicians often play at other restaurants and venues, it's not easy to say if the crowd comes for the food or the music, which makes the lounge something special.
"All the players tell me there is no place like this in town," he said.
Though Hester, who goes by his nickname Friggie, previously owned Friggie's Sideline Sportswear, there is little he learned from his first business that easily translates to running his second.
"This is a whole new ball game," Hester said. "It's totally different, except for customer service and wanting to give them a good product."
This time around, that product is jazz music, performed by an array of local talent, he said.
So why the jump from clothing to jazz? Hester said opening a venue for live jazz music has always been one of his dreams.
"Something that I wanted to do was give local talent somewhere to play and give grown folk somewhere to relax that's comfortable and feels safe, where they can enjoy themselves."
Hester grew up in
"I have always loved jazz," Hester said. "Coming up as a kid, I always loved soothing music (and) love ballads. That's what jazz is to me."
Hester wouldn't say no to any big-name jazz musician hoping to play at the lounge, but "the main focus right now is for local talent because they need to be exposed."
"Believe me, there is some very good talent here," Hester continued, listing Trimble,
Despite having a wealth of local jazz talent,
"Youngsters have enough places to go. Older, grown people can come here and enjoy themselves, be relaxed," Hester said, but "I know people who are 23, 24 who love jazz. They come in and they enjoy themselves, too."
Jazz music might not draw hordes of young nightlife, but Hester is confident people will always come to see good live music.
"I'm willing to take that chance because I think and I know there are a lot of jazz lovers in town," he said. More mature patrons will take comfort that "this is not a club; it's a lounge. You can have a conversation -- you don't have to yell over the music."
And now, after months of painting, decorating, tiling and obtaining permits, Hester is ready to share his dream with
"It was a lot of hard work but it's worth it."
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