When you first walk into The Tourist Inn on a weekday afternoon, you might not notice its entertainment venue.
True to its name, The Back Room typically hides out of sight in the back of the establishment during the day. But by nightfall Nov. 20, the venue wants to get noticed in a big way.
Over the last three months, booking manager Shane Haddaway and bar owner Annette Fullerton-Thoman have been updating The Back Room’s interior, replacing the stage lighting and sound system and adding local craft beers, specialty pizzas and wing sauces to the menu.
They covered the ceiling tiles in splattered black paint that glows above the stage; added shelving, a sign and a fresh coat of paint behind the bar; hung a chalkboard featuring drink specials; and hired local artist Andrius Polonikas to paint a mural of The Tourist Inn circa 1930.
By the time the makeover is complete, the venue – which seats 150 and holds about 300 – will also have new high-top tables and couches for larger parties, Haddaway said.
But the biggest change guests can expect by The Tourist Inn’s kickoff celebration this weekend is a variety of live entertainment.
Previously, The Back Room booked mainly rock bands on Saturdays and some Fridays. But now, guests can expect to hear all genres from country music to pop to a Beastie Boys tribute on The Back Room stage Thursdays through Sundays.
“We’re trying to shake it up and be a place that everybody from every walk of society feels comfortable,” Haddaway said.
On Thursdays starting Dec. 3, The Back Room will host Open Mic Nights with Andrew Naylor, and on Sundays, customers can participate in Karaoke with Dwayne Christ. Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. will feature local and regional acts.
“Our goal is to involve the community in a way that evolves the growing arts and music scene in York,” he said. “We would like to be a home base for all artists, traveling as well as local.”
In keeping with the local theme, The Back Room will also feature works by local artists on a rotating basis, starting with York photographer Ed Polakoff Nov. 20.
“The name of the game here really is community,” Fullerton-Thoman said. “We want to involve them in everything we do.”
To celebrate these changes, The Back Room will host a weekend-long kickoff party Friday and Saturday with live music, beer samples, games and trivia.
Festivities will begin at 7 p.m. with trivia and free beer samples from Goose Island on Friday and Crystal Ball Brewing Co. Friday and Saturday. Budweiser will also offer a Bud draft giveaway Saturday, while supplies last.
At 9 p.m. Friday, York County thunder grass band Hogmaw will kick off the live music with their first York performance in more than two years. Local favorite Dr. Slothclaw will follow with a funk set.
Saturday’s lineup will feature modern dance rock band Rock Candy, modern rock band Headcase and five-piece acoustic rock band Ian Aston & The Missing Peace.
“What we’re trying to do is to provide a hub where all entertainment, music and arts can come together and we can grow together,” Haddaway said. “We’re really trying … to grow this into something that belongs to everybody.”
IF YOU GO
What: The Back Room kickoff party
When: Beer tasting at 7 p.m., doors open at 8:30 p.m., music starts at 9 p.m. Nov. 20-21
Where: The Back Room at The Tourist Inn, 671 W. Market St., Hallam
Cost: $6 cover
More information: Visit touristinn.net.