Our free and inclusive Waterkeeper Blueway Ride this coming Monday, July 12th, brings us back to the Groove Lounge (1210 Broadway in Broadway-Fillmore, 6:30pm start), home of great live music and those Cajun honey wings that Slow Rollers gush about. Learn more below from point man Michael Ray Jackson, known to many as the point guard on Canisius College basketball’s 1985 NIT run.

How has the Groove Lounge evolved since you’ve been involved?

Back in 2008 it was a banquet hall, then we turned it into a game zone with over 200 video games and bounce houses, but didn’t get the support that we wanted to so we moved into the bar business with live music and food. It’s family-oriented until 10pm, after that it’s a grown folks groove.

How has The Groove gotten through the pandemic?

First we had to get through the bias of some in the community – when things happen outside The Groove, it seems to get more publicity that when it happens at other bars. There were incidents outside that we had no control over, that’s one thing.

As for the pandemic, our food helped us get through it. Because of the restrictions, people couldn’t come inside, but they were still coming for the food for takeout. If it wasn’t for the food, we’d have closed down.

What else are you most looking forward to in the near future at the center?

Bringing national acts, as far as comedy and national recording artists. We’re also looking forward to starting Project Hope, an after-school program for kids to come and identify with one another, because we don’t have too many community centers, so we want em to come here instead of being on the street corner or isolated at home. Our ultimate goal is to get volunteers mentoring from different aspects of life – athletes as role models can be a good thing, but a low percentage get to the pros. We wanna bring in doctors, architects, everyday people to talk to the kids and tell em how they got where they’re at, let the kids know there’s more to life than just what they see on the street corner.

Being so involved with the community, we’re like an urban convention center. Not too many of us get the chance to throw events at the convention center downtown, so since we have enough space here, a lot of people use us. We give away a lot of stuff in the community – book bags, school supplies, feed the hungry. We help the community and the community helps us.

What should Slow Rollers expect at The Groove this coming Monday night?

We’ll have a family-friendly atmosphere, and we’ll be featuring our BBQ menu, since we’re planning to open up another BBQ place called Blazing Smokehouse. We wanna let everyone know this is not just a chicken wing place, especially since they’re so expensive now. We wanna diversify the facility – that’s one of the reasons we open up on a Monday just for Slow Roll.