When the sign first went up for the new place at 74 E. Market Street, we speculated on the meaning of the name Volo. Anyone who attended the grand opening last Friday would have a hard time arguing against the Urban Dictionary’s top definition: “a hot spot.”
I’m well into my second decade living in Corning, and spent many a night at the Glory Hole (at least during its “Pub & Eatery” days)… so I was anxious to see what the new business in this old spot would have to offer. I had been in to check the place out a couple of times in previous weeks – during their soft open period – and had found a clean, almost stark interior. There is an attractive new floor, booths now line the back corner walls, and the bathrooms – though not any larger than they used to be – have been re-done. Other than those changes, the physical space is not substantially different from the bar it replaced.
If you visited the old Glory Hole much, you’ll find the walls now look pretty barren – devoid of the myriad glass tools/photos/ephemera that used to adorn them. In fact, the long stretch of wall opposite the bar is completely blank and painted white – which at first glance you could chalk up to one of those unfinished touches the new owners were still waiting to get around to. Volo’s owner Vinnie Azzarelli dispels that notion with the flick of a switch from behind the bar… revealing one of several touches that make Volo just a little different from any other bar in the area.
A playlist of movies and assorted video clips is curated nightly (for example, on Art of Ferrari weekend he played classic racing movies like Grand Prix and Les Mans). The films play on the wall via a projector – and are mirrored on a flat-screen TV behind the bar. This past Friday, 2001: A Space Odyssey was the feature. It’s interesting how far something like this goes toward creating a different atmosphere from say, ESPN or CNN.
Mind you, there is no sound from the movies. Volo’s soundtrack comes from a similarly owner-chosen playlist. Friday night began with an ambient groove… chill beats at low enough volume to encourage happy hour conversation. The tunes became appropriately louder and more emphatic as the night wore on and the crowd grew.
But what about (arguably) the most important part of a bar… the drinks? Stepping up to the bar, you are presented with a simple laminated drink menu – listing bottle/draft beers on one side and signature cocktails on the other. Like everything else about Volo, this menu is not too limited, not too extensive, but just right.
On a previous trip I had sampled the Volo Manhattan – which I found a bit too fruity/citrusy for my taste. On this occasion, I began with a Moscow Mule. Though not a big cocktail drinker, I enjoyed it – and the copper mug it was served in stands as another of those little touches adding to Volo’s personality. I’m also a fan of Volo’s eclectic beer selection. They carry one of my all-time favorites (I’d tell you which one, but then you might drink them all and leave none for me) and have already shown a willingness to rotate the tap beers regularly (the newly installed selection from local brewery Climbing Bines is worth a try).
Service has been great every visit I’ve made so far, and on the evening of the grand opening Vinnie and his staff handled a large crowd well. A significant portion of those in attendance may have been friends & family, but there’s no doubt the vibe was energetic and everyone seemed to be having a great time.
I appreciate the clandestine escape an inky-dark lounge provides, but Volo could use some accent lighting to spice up the backbar and maybe the booth area. The barstools could use an upgrade to something more comfortable and in keeping with the style Volo seems to otherwise represent (the current ones would be right at home in an Asian buffet). And the electronic dart machine looks a bit out of place in a bar that seems to call for something more esoteric… allow us to make a suggestion.
If bars like Maley’s and Oaks are the hard-partying undergrads… and bar scenes at the likes of Tony R’s & Three Birds the all-grown-up adults… then Volo stands as the cool grad student… hip and mature enough to know what it is… and to not try too hard to be something it’s not.
Volo is a bar and cocktail lounge with its own identity. And Market Street is instantly a little better for it.
Volo: 74 E. Market Street, Corning, NY