The club used to be a pool hall called Al Pellegrini’s,” Jimmy Anselmo explains, concerning the nativity of the establishment that has borne his name for the past 21 years. Jimmy has recently sold the club to a trio of partners that includes Chris Beary, James Sullivan and Scott Weinberg and now acts primarily as a consultant, in between treks to the Elmwood Fitness Center where Anselmo works on his youthful physique.
“I tried to keep it open for a while as Al Pellegrini’s,” Jimmy reminisces. “There was nothing here but pillheads and drunks and some of the leftover people from the methadone clinic on Carrollton Avenue. I stayed open for about a month and I didn’t see any future in that. So I closed the place and started looking for funds to build the club with.
“I went to the banks and they all turned me down. Then I went to the Small Business Administration and they accepted me. I proceeded to build Jimmy’s and we opened April 9, 1978.
My dad was in the nightclub business in the French Quarter and I was exposed to a lot of music growing up. He had a place called the Mardi Gras Lounge and when I was a little boy, I would hang around the bandstand during the daytime and piddle around with the drums.
“When I opened up in ’78, it was basically me, Jed’s and TIpitina’s. I wanted to improve upon those two clubs. That’s why we built the raised level—I used to hang out at Tipitina’s and I was always annoyed because you couldn’t see the show if you were stuck in the back.
“I never wanted to typecast the club as one kind of thing. We had an R&B band one night and a punk band the next. I kind of went against what other clubs were doing. I decided to go with everything.
“Music lovers seem the same as they were 20 years ago. We’ve never had any problems with violence or fights. The music crowd is a bit more sophisticated than the regular barroom people. They don’t quite drink as much. They’re