Ian McGregor told us about his vision in 2018. Five years later, his combination deli-venue opens this week
If you talk to anyone involved in the local music scene around Boston and the surrounding areas, chances are they’ll voice concern about the lack of mid-size venues. The losses of the beloved Great Scott in Allston and Once in Somerville dealt major blows when they both closed up during the pandemic-ridden year of 2020.
Ever since then, there’s been a chasm for bands, both local and national, that can’t fill an over 500 capacity room at this time in their careers. But this Saturday, some of that void will be filled when Deep Cuts celebrates the opening of their brand new space at 21 Main Street in the heart of Medford Square. The establishment promises to be unique in how it will function as both an eatery and a brewery along with being a music venue that can fit 240 attendees.
The creative vision for Deep Cuts was forged by co-founders Ian McGregor and Jeff Wetzel, with the former being the executive chef and event director and the latter being the chief beverage officer. They’ve been friends for more than 15 years with the idea for the venue coming to light when McGregor was functioning Deep Cuts as a sandwich pop-up while Wetzel was involved with BearMoose Brewing Company in Everett as the founder and brewery.
“My ex-girlfriend at the time used to work with Ian at Soulfire, which used to be down in Allston,” Wetzel says about how he and McGregor got together to start the business. “That’s when we met and we hung out at Great Scott and other spots around there. Around 10 years after that, I was making plans to start BearMoose and Ian was starting to do Deep Cuts as a pop-up. We reconnected a little bit about business stuff, which eventually morphed into us looking to do something together. I proposed to Ian that he could come in to do some food at the brewery for a little bit, so after we both left BearMoose we decided to team up.”
Going from being a popup to a three-pronged entity as an eatery, deli, and live music venue was always the plan for McGregor when he started Deep Cuts. While COVID did temporarily shift things in a different direction, both he and Wetzel adapted before eventually moving into their current location.
“The idea was to always try to do something like this, but we didn’t know that it was going to be as big as our new space.” McGregor explains the evolution of Deep Cuts. “We had a space before the pandemic in Somerville that we sadly had to back out of because of COVID, and then when we had a takeout spot for the time being. We had a little market with local bands selling their merch while brewing beer to go in order to try to keep the name going, but the plan was always to have a small venue and brewery space. For three years, we were popping up with sandwiches at local breweries and then we finally found the space to do what we really wanted to do.”
For the opening night on May 20, there’s going to be a stacked rock show with local heavy hitters Zip-Tie Handcuffs, Black Beach, and Today Junior taking the stage. While the brewery won’t be fully up and running, people can expect an assortment of craft beer from a bunch of other breweries based in the area along with some delicious food specials.
“We’re going to do what we were doing with the deli while bringing back our classics that we know people have missed for the past couple months,” McGregor said about the menu. “While we’re open for the next week or so, we’re going to be doing some new specials like pizza, fried chicken, and stuff like that.”
“Our brewery is still in progress,” Wetzel adds. “It’s not at an operational point yet but we should be able to start brewing beer by the end of next week … In the meantime, we’re going to be putting on some breweries that we’re friends with during the first week or two. These include Portico Brewing over in Somerville, Winter Hill Brewing Company, Medford Brewing Company and we also have a full liquor bar, canned wine, and cider so it’s a little bit everything.”
The guys in Zip-Tie Handcuffs, who also have a long-running friendship with McGregor, are pumped to take part in the opening night at Deep Cuts.
“It’s a huge honor to be playing opening night at such an exciting, new, and much needed space in the Boston area,” co-vocalist and guitarist Matt Ford says. “We’ve known Ian for years, and he has always been a huge supporter and asset to local music and artists. We are incredibly lucky, both as musicians and fans of music, to have him and his crew in our city, and people like them should be celebrated! We’re so excited for this next great chapter.”
Moving forward, the primary mission for Deep Cuts is to occupy a critical space in the music ecosystem. Both McGregor and Wetzel want the venue to be an ideal place for local bands with a bigger following as well as national touring acts who are looking to play in front of a couple hundred people. They also want it to be a great spot to enjoy a craft brew in a pint glass.
“The venue part is a big thing for us,” McGregor says. “We’ve been doing beer and sandwiches ever since we had our little space so the major goal for us as a venue now is to fill the void of mid-size venues in the Boston area. We kind of want to be like what Great Scott was for local bands who are a little bit bigger now and they can play a bigger room like ours. The same with national touring bands who don’t want to play too big of a room with the main focus definitely being an event space for the community. With us being a brewery as well, we also want to get some great craft beer out there.”
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.