The late Joe Gayles of Louisville, Ky., loved music and chased his dream of providing live music to the public seven nights a week when he opened JoeyG’s Restaurant and Nightclub in July 2000 on Madison, Ind.,’s Main Street. Gayles managed to keep his doors open for 12 years, pushing through the lean winter months until spring and summer when the tourists returned to help fill the town with nightlife.
JoeyG’s offered local musicians a place to hone their talent before live audiences. Gayles also brought in many big names for Friday and Saturday night shows. For music lovers, it was the place to be on weekend nights.
Gayles died in October 2012 at age 54 after a long illness. But his dream did not die with him.
Photo by Don Ward
Off Broadway Tap Room’s Ryan Shaw poses in front of the restaurant and bar in Madison, Ind. He has guided the growth of the bar’s eclectic music scene and craft beer.
Gayles wife, Cheri, continued to operate the restaurant until April 2013. In May of that year, she sold it to Libby Mann, who has owned and operated the Broadway Hotel & Tavern since moving to Madison in 1992. Mann and her two sons, Ryan and Larry Shaw, both experienced in construction, totally renovated the building, upgrading the kitchen and bar areas. Mann decorated the place with Madison memorabilia, including hanging a real hydroplane race boat on the wall behind the stage. The boat once belonged to former Miss Madison driver Steve David, who drove it. The boat, named Century 21 Special, and David hold a speed record of 102.265 mph in its now-retired race class.
After working nearly a year on upgrading the kitchen and extending the bar, Shaw and his mother opened Off Broadway Tap Room at 218 E. Main St. Keeping with the tradition of live music started by Gayles, Ryan Shaw took over management of the Tap Room with live music nearly every night of the week, and especially on weekends. Larry, meanwhile, manages the Broadway Hotel & Tavern.
“Madison has got a lot of people who appreciate live music, so once we started having bands it just sort of grew from there. But it all started here with Joey, and we are sort of continuing what he started,” said Ryan Shaw, 47.
Shaw said he first met Gayles when he would come to dine at the Broadway Hotel when he first moved to Madison and opened a record store on Main Street. “He wanted live music all the time. I feel like we have made that happen.”
Currently, the Tap Room offers live music Thursday through Sunday, with local musicians playing Thursday and Sunday and bigger acts on the weekend nights.
Photo by Don Ward
Off Broadway Tap Room on Madison’s Main Street has become a popular place to eat, drink and dance to all types of live music nearly every night of the week. Below, the hydroplane race boat is pictured that hangs on the wall behind the stage.
On “Taco Tuesday,” the Tap Room offers an open mic night on stage. Wednesday night is crowded with Trivia Night.
Shaw, a Cincinnati native, moved to Madison in the footsteps of his mother back in the 1990s and had never worked in a restaurant before. “My brother and I worked in construction in Cincinnati before moving here. We just sort of learned the restaurant business on the job of running the bar and kitchen and everything else while at the Broadway,” he said. “We’ve come a long way since then.”
True to its name, Off Broadway Tap Room also features an assortment of 16 craft beers on tap and a wide variety of food options. In March, Shaw and his kitchen manager, Gabby Hammersley, decided to try a Sunday brunch from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It was an instant success – so much so that they are considering expanding it to Saturdays.
“There’s not a lot of places in Madison to have brunch, so we thought this would be a good move,” Hammersley said. The Indianapolis native has been at the Tap Room for two years and has helped expand the menu.
“Burgers are probably our most popular item on the menu, but we offer much more than that,” Shaw said. The restaurant uses grass-fed beef and vegetables from a farm in Campbellsburg, Ky.
In fact, the restaurant is planning to hold its second annual farm-to-table “Harvest Dinner” event on June 22 in the alley next door.
The Tap Room also offers frequent craft tastings to customers. The next one is scheduled for June 21 by representatives from Stone Brewery.
Dave Butler, a local dental surgeon and musician with The Doctors Band, serves on the band selection committee of the Madison Ribberfest blues and barbecue festival, held each August on the riverfront. Butler has been coming to the restaurant since Gayles first opened JoeyG’s. And his band continues to play at the Tap Room a few times a year. Butler praised Shaw’s work to continue Gayles’ tradition of providing live music in Madison. And he also likes the food.
“Ryan has done a great job by taking what Joe Gayles started and making it a lot better,” Butler said. “I’m not trying to disparage Joe in any way because he started it all. Ryan has come along and made it a top notch place for musicians to play. People coming from out of town are amazed a the caliber of talent we have here in Madison – Jimmy Davis, Bill Lancton, Joe Perkinson, Darryl Hewitt to name a few.”
Shaw credits Butler for helping find national acts to come play weekend gigs at the Tap Room. “Dave has a lot of connections from his work on the Ribberfest bands,” Shaw said. The Tap Room also benefits from hiring bigger acts when they are in town to play at local festivals. In fact, one band – Edgar Red – scheduled to perform in the afternoon at the Madison Regatta’s Roostertails Music Festival in July has been hired to play later that night at the Tap Room, Shaw said.
Butler recalled that on one occasion a couple of years ago after the Ribberfest was rained out on a Saturday night that was to have featured Los Lobos as the final act, one of the Los Lobos band members – Cesar Rosas – wound up at the Tap Room. “He wanted to play, so we got him up on stage to play a few songs with Gary Applegate, who was the entertainer that night. It was really something.”
Shaw said he would like to expand the operation but that space is tight inside the restaurant. The kitchen is also very small. As a result, the music can get loud.
Gayles always liked to turn it up when working the sound board. Regarding the noise level, Butler joked, “It gets a little loud in there, but if there is a big crowd, the bodies soak it up.”
Butler also praised the food at the Tap Room. “It’s amazing to see the quality of food coming out of that kitchen. Gabby has done a great job of overseeing that.”
• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email him at: info@RoundAbout.bz.
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