New cover-less vegan jazz club just opened in Bushwick


At first glance, the concept of the Ornithology Jazz Club, a new musical destination in Brooklyn, sounds like an oxymoron.

Found smack in the middle of a neighborhood, Bushwick, generally known for its allegiance to EDM music, the only thing stranger than its feature is the Ornithology menu, which is entirely vegan.

And yet, a closer look behind the scenes of the place paints a much larger picture. As first reported by Grub Street, the space is the brainchild of Rie Yamaguchi-Borden and her husband Mitchell Borden. The couple are no strangers to the jazz lifestyle: Mitchell opened Smalls, arguably one of Manhattan’s most iconic jazz clubs, in 1994. He also founded Fat Cat, another top destination. in the West Village in 2000.

The duo moved to Bushwick in 2019 and, once the pandemic struck, created a non-profit organization to help jazz musicians find concerts in the city during troubled times and beyond. The Bordens then began hosting weekly jam sessions at the local LGBTQ-friendly bar Bodeguita and eventually purchased the space. They reopened it as Ornithology Jazz Club two months ago.

In addition to the musicians who take the stage every night (check out an updated performance schedule here), the destination hopes to differentiate itself with a high gourmet menu. Typically, jazz clubs aren’t necessarily known for their food offerings, but at Ornithology, the fare is just as exciting as the music.

Customers can order a variety of sandwiches made by Matt Clifford Monday through Thursday, while Anthony James’ veggie burgers are available on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays, the on-site cooking is entrusted to a rotating group of chefs who present their unique dishes to the public. Here, the kitchen is also a stage.

As exciting as the concept as a whole is, there are two aspects peculiar to ornithology that really set it apart: First, there is absolutely no cover charge, an almost unheard of feature when it comes to birding. is jazz destinations in New York. In addition, the stage is up for grabs every night after the end of the planned act.

As for the name of the space (ornithology is the scientific study of birds), the Bordens reveal by email that it appeals to “seekers of wisdom, including all the artists who devote themselves to deepening the meaning of life. . “

While he’s clearly trying to reinvent the notion of jazz clubs slightly, what’s especially exciting about Ornithology is that he’s able to deliver a modern take on the genre while also going back to simpler times. , where music really took center stage.

“It’s a sanctuary of fine spirits,” the couple said of the club. “A lot of people have told us that ornithology reminded them of New York City’s heyday, when all the artists came together to inspire each other.”


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