Joey Calderaio Band performing at Northwood Art & Music Warehouse.
Photo by Northwood Art & Music Warehouse.
Anyone turning east off Australian Avenue onto 25th Street in West Palm Beach might think they found the artistic version of desolation boulevard, at least until they near U.S. Highway 1 and the trendy establishments in the city’s Northwood section.
That’s because they’ll likely pass the Northwood Art & Music Warehouse, located roughly halfway heading east and three blocks north, without knowing it.
Open since February, the venue is the brainchild of owner Joe DeStephan, a 53-year-old New Jersey native who changed his warehouse from a storage unit to a music and arts epicenter, however off the beaten path. In relocating from Miami to Northwood, he had a blueprint for success.
“I started buying beer and bringing in musicians to turn it into my man cave,” DeStephan says. “I was living in Miami Beach when the COVID era started and bars were closing, so I was able to get cheap bar equipment through liquidation. I’d lived there since 1993, saw how its Wynwood district developed from nothing into an arts scene since, and figured I might be able to help make that happen here.”
His man cave features 20-foot ceilings, oversized doors, and ventilation and fans that eliminate the need for air conditioning. It has a stage and PA system for bands, couches and padded chairs in front of it, and high-top tables and seating through the center of the large room. Work by South Florida artisans adorns the nooks on the west wall, and the bar features wines and an array of unpredictable, Florida-themed draft and canned beers.
And that’s just the interior.
Northwood Art & Music Warehouse owner Joe DeStephan standing behind a checkout terminal at the bar.
Photo by Northwood Art & Music Warehouse.
Food trucks sit outside the door to the north, and DeStephan’s customized classic trucks are hard to miss throughout the property. To the west of the warehouse is a spacious, fenced-in, gravel-covered yard with fire pits, a tiki bar and a former shipping container that opens up as an outdoor stage.
Word is spreading about this fledgling inside/outside combination, particularly among musicians, visual artists and their followers of all ages.
“It seems to be growing in popularity,” says Doug Lindsay, bassist/vocalist for variety act Groove Merchant, a recurring performer on the Northwood Art & Music Warehouse calendar. “It’s nice to see the mix in ages. Joe did a great job of converting a warehouse, and it’s definitely a band-friendly venue.”
Setting up shop in an industrial area decreases the likelihood of nearby residents complaining about volume. But the owner foresaw that possibility.
“They love that we’re here,” DeStephan says. “We’ve had birthday parties with bounce houses for their kids in the courtyard. People love to be able to be outdoors.”
A forerunner, Mathews Brewing Co. in Lake Worth Beach, has succeeded for six years in the warehouse district west of the city’s downtown by featuring outdoor live music, shade-providing huts and food trucks. DeStephan also has another similarity in the works: starting his own brewery and beer garden in and around one of the multiple smaller buildings on his expansive lot.
“It’s perfectly set up for a brewery,” he says. “It’s going to take a while, but my concept here is a themed combination of a brewery and art gallery, an artistic experience to go with the music and the vintage trucks.”
If successful real estate is indeed about location, location, location, DeStephan could prove clairvoyant by envisioning the future of what’s now a sleepy section of Northwood.
“What really helped make Wynwood so successful as a business district was the artists,” he says. “And when I look at this area, I see something that could develop similarly. I like the feel of an industrial area that’s not cookie-cutter. I actually see it as lending itself to the vibe and mystique.”
See the Holidazed Duo on Dec. 15, the Sierra Lane Band on Dec. 16, JP Soars on Dec. 17, the Delray Jazz Collective on Dec. 19 and Joey Tenuto on Dec. 22, each from 7 to 10 p.m., at the Northwood Art & Music Warehouse, 933 28th St., West Palm Beach. For further information, call 561-425-9040, or visit northwoodartandmusic.com.