By Jenn Smith
Berkshire Eagle Staff
Happy 2014, dear readers, and congratulations! You’ve made it through another year, another round of holidays and hopefully done so unscathed.
As with every 365 days, those in the year 2013 brought its share of good-byes, hellos and "oh mys" in terms of the Berkshires, after dark.
So without further ado, I present to you a year in review and a look at what’s continuing and new:
Even in the circle of nightlife, things must come to an end. In 2013, we saw the closing of several well-liked establishments, eateries and watering holes.
The most surprising was the Dakota Steakhouse on the Pittsfield/Lenox line, which was closed last April as the result of corporate decision-making. I used to be a hostess there and will miss the friendly faces of its staff and customers, its legendary salad bar and house bread and the cozy bar area.
Just down the road, Halpin’s Grub & Grog in Lenox, which was established in 2008, also met its fate as a popular sports bar, which regularly hosted live music and karaoke.
Another sports pub and a pizza place, Fresco’s Wood Fired Pizza, in Pittsfield also said goodbye to its patrons in the last months of 2013.
In Great Barrington, Fiori restaurant, which opened in 2011 and hosted occasional music nights as well as a late-night menu, also closed.
Northward, an amazing era came to an end with the Billsville House Concert series in Williamstown. They brought 40 bands to their barn and parlor spaces, from Lake Street Dive to Brown Bird, Spirit Family Reunion to The David Wax Museum. The house in which the concerts were held just sold back in December. But my, what a magical run.
In North Adams, the Artery Lounge remains permanently closed, and that’s probably a good thing. The city put stiff penalties on the bar after a stabbing happened just outside the establishment back in June.
When one kitchen door closes, another opens, as we will see with some of the above.
For example, the last time The Eagle checked, the Dakota Steakhouse is set to be renovated and take on a pan-Asian flair by the same owners as KOTO Hibachi Steak House, Sushi & Bar in Pittsfield.
The Fresco’s spot in Pittsfield also appears to be under renovation, but that’s about all I know. Drop me a line or give me a call if you have the scoop.
As far as I know, a Mario’s Tuscany Grill is planning to open up in the former Fiori space. So cheers to continued commerce at the above versus having dormant venues in the Berkshires.
Also in 2013, some new spots opened in the county, including J. Allen’s Clubhouse Grille, which opened last January in Pittsfield in the former Brulees space.
The Halpin’s space has already re-opened under new ownership as Mazcots Sports Bar & Grill and seems to have a steady following.
And though not an actual venue, the deejay collective known as #TheShutdownTeam has been a new group on the scene organizing dance events throughout the county.
Although the Billsville House Concerts have come to an end, the collective of sponsorship of local music shows will continue. Billstock, Williamstown’s music festival, has set dates for March 7 and 8, and has seven acts in its lineup.
The Parlor Cafe in North Adams, which opened back in December 2012, continues to be a steady promoter of live performing arts, hosting music, spoken word and visual artists.
And though Y Bar in Pittsfield has ceased to be open on a regular basis, it is still a vital branch of the Word X Word Festival, the 10 x 10 Upstreet Arts Festival (Feb. 13-23) and other special events.
The Whitney Center for the Arts in Pittsfield is also an up-and-coming cultural powerhouse, which will be hosting a new classical music concert series in 2014, as well as ongoing art exhibits and after-hours receptions.
As always, the Berkshires tends to lend itself to surprising new developments and happenings, so as the new year comes into its own, my colleagues and I will be sure to keep you in the loop.
If you hear or see something new and exciting happening with the Berkshires’ nightlife scene, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, (413) 496-6239, on Twitter @JennSmith_Ink or Facebook.com/413EagleJenn.