Owning a bar isn’t rocket science, but it doesn’t hurt to be a high-energy particle physicist who once worked on CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Ben Lillie did just that before going on to co-found The Story Collider, a podcast dedicated to personal stories about science. Last night, he took the quantum leap into bar ownership and opened Caveat, a Lower East Side venue where thinkers like himself will mingle with comedians, musicians, and the completely unclassifiable.
Lillie wants Caveat, located in the onetime home of the legendary Living Theatre, to be a “laboratory for developing new ideas” that will focus on “bringing academics out in the public sphere.” If that sounds too brainy for you, maybe we should mention another variable in this equation: A beer and wine list offering cans of Blithering Idiot.
Lillie, who is also a UCB grad, acknowledges that places like the Bell House, Union Hall, The Greene Space, and 92nd Street Y are already holding “thinky” events like the ones he and creative director Kate Downey have programmed. But he’s hoping Caveat will “build a community of people creating these types of events so they can talk to each other about how to make them better.” Spoken like someone who used to be a writer for TED.com.
So what’s on tap? For one thing, Story Collider will take up residence in the space, which is set up for audio and video recording. Other podcasts that will broadcast from 21A Clinton Street are You’re the Expert, wherein comedians attempt to comprehend the work of leading academics, and some Caveat originals, including Dedicate It, dedicated to the stories behind book dedications, and Versus, wherein comedians and experts engage in absurd debates such as “Ecology vs. Psychology.”
There will also boundary-breaking musical performances by the likes of Brooklyn Raga Massive, an Indian classical music outfit that hosts open jam sessions, and Brooklyn-based popsters Violet Sands, who will turn the space into the immersive Violet Sands Hotel.
Lillie wants the food to be as genre-defying as the programming, so, within the next couple of weeks, Caveat will begin hosting rotating guest chefs such as Diego Moya, who recently opened Hemlock on the Lower East Side.
Caveat, 21A Clinton St., nr. Stanton St., Lower East Side; 212-228-2100.