Tenant

Guilt & Co

An underground bar for music lovers.

Ask Jordan Stewart to describe Guilt & Co. and he’ll tell you it’s a cross between a bar and a restaurant with live music in a sexy basement. And as the owner of the Gastown staple, he knows what he’s talking about.

While Guilt & Co. may have opened their subterranean doors in 2010, working in the music industry is something that Jordan has been preparing for his entire life. For him, doing something with music was less of a conscious decision and more destiny if you believe in that kind of thing. Both his father and grandfather were musicians who introduced Jordan to a wide spectrum of musical genres that most kids wouldn’t even know. In the Stewart household, waking up to a man jamming on the banjo in the family living room was just another Sunday. As Jordan remembers, “music was a way to be social, readily available, and came at no cost—it just existed to be discovered and enjoyed.”

As an adult, Jordan saw that this beautiful art form that helped shape him was being commodified. Reduced to ticketed events with hefty price tags, a barrier that would keep many people from discovering new musicians and genres they might come to love. So, he set out to create a live music venue that would feel intimate, amplify local musicians, and, most importantly, keep the music playing for anyone who wanted to listen.

His solution? Turn an unfinished, low-ceilinged basement with crumbling century-old floors and stone walls into a cozy live music lounge with speakeasy vibes. It didn’t come easy though. There were challenges with renovating such a raw space—balancing modern necessities with the original details that give this underground lounge its unique charm.

Then there was trying to figure out a way to run a business where musicians were paid well and promptly for their art while keeping costs low for people who wanted to enjoy live music. The solution for this was a flexible cover charge that both patrons and artists found fair. It made Guilt & Co. an easy place for audiences to learn about a funk quartet they may have never seen or discover that bluesy folk music is their jam. The discoveries didn’t just end with the audience. Artists used the underground music lounge to find new people to perform for and to re-discover and experiment with their sound—trying out new performances on a captive audience.

A sense of discovery has always been the ethos of Guilt & Co. From allowing people to experience new genres, musicians, and audiences to a live music lounge in an unconventional space that begs you to explore. Guilt & Co. isn’t just a sexy basement where you can get a hand-crafted cocktail, tasty nibbles, and listen to great music—it’s a place to discover.