Raquel’s Jazz Lounge: Rialto’s Jazz Gem

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Songstress performs at Raquel’s Jazz Lounge, which holds live jazz performances on Saturdays.

By Adriana Lopez

In downtown Rialto on Riverside avenue is Raquel’s Jazz Lounge, an establishment that has
been open for over 30 years. Once known as Alley Kat Jazz Lounge, Raquel’s has undergone
some renovations, ownership change, and survived a pandemic.

Current owners Patrick Smith and Timothy Stansell have been the backbone of the jazz lounge
for eight years, and have used their shared experiences as promoters to ensure the survival of
Raquel’s.

“Nowadays people don’t want to see a flyer, they want to see a video of what people look like in
your establishment and who they’re hanging out with,” Smith said.

Understanding the need for visual appeal reflects in the lounge’s appearance. The brick walls are covered in original artwork, the light fixtures are bright enough to illuminate the lounge but don’t disrupt the peaceful ambiance, there isn’t a tear in sight on any of the booths or chairs.
The outdoor patio offers a continuation of the lounge’s ambiance, with tables spaced far enough to keep from feeling overcrowded, but close enough to invite friendly conversation.
A friendly, inviting environment is what Smith and Stansell strive for. To Stansell, offering a
place where patrons can communicate with one another is the major contribution that Raquel’s
brings to Rialto.

“It brings everybody together, it brings everybody to understand what else is going on, good,
bad, or indifferent,” Stansell said. “It’s a chance for people to exchange business ideas. There is
no loss when people come in to network.”

Raquel’s Jazz Lounge also offers the chance to hear a live band perform, a rare characteristic as
most clubs and lounges choose to have DJs or employees in charge of creating a playlist for
guests to hear over speakers.

Songstress is one of the bands that Raquel’s keeps in rotation. With three singers, a keyboardist, bassist and a drummer, Songstress seems successful in bringing what attendees want to see and hear at the lounge. Members of the group keep a high energy while playing melodic songs that one would hope to hear in a jazz lounge.

Attendees clap and dance throughout Songstress’s set, a clear sign of a successful night at
Raquel’s. Among the guests is Kassandra Brown, who made the drive from her home in Azusa after a friend recommended the lounge.

“She said there was live music, and I wanted to hear a live band because it’s been a long time
since I’ve heard live music,” Brown said.

While Brown listens to jazz in her free time, she knows this won’t be the case for most people.
Still, she believes people should give Raquel’s a chance.

“Try something new, life is too short to not have new experiences and this is a place that will not disappoint,” Brown said.

This is what Smith wants, for Raquel’s to be an inviting atmosphere, carried to the tune of jazz.
“We embrace everybody and every culture and I think it really derives from music,” Smith said.
“Music is love, regardless of where you’re coming from.”