click to enlarge ShaMecca (“Mecca”) and LaTeshia (“Teshia”) LeSane have taken over the old Boogaloo’s in Northside and rebranded as Harlym Blue’Z, offering live music and “cultured bar food with a southern twist."

Scott Elmquist

ShaMecca (“Mecca”) and LaTeshia (“Teshia”) LeSane have taken over the old Boogaloo’s in Northside and rebranded as Harlym Blue’Z, offering live music and “cultured bar food with a southern twist."

Friday, June 24, 2022

Rhythm and Booze

Northside’s beloved Boogaloo’s Bar & Grill gets a rebranding as Harlym Blue’Z.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2022 at 10:28 AM

ShaMecca (“Mecca”) and LaTeshia (“Teshia”) LeSane knew they wanted to open a music venue in Richmond, but finding the right spot proved more complicated than they could’ve imagined, especially during COVID.

Teshia, a mental health counselor by day and musician by night, and Mecca, a full-time teacher, sought to combine their respective passions within whatever storefront they could secure. The pair, who met playing basketball, dreamt of making the space a center for youth enrichment during the day and a venue for aspiring musicians, like Teshia herself, during the evening.

Their search for a location gained momentum after they told Nerisa Ford, owner of Boogaloo’s in Northside, about their fruitless efforts. Teshia was a regular weekly performer at Boogaloo’s. The pair’s story struck a chord with Ford and she agreed to allow them to slowly take over her space. First, the pair continued to operate under the Boogaloo’s name when they started in January, until they were ready to fully rebrand as Harlym Blue’Z.

The restaurant’s fare, “cultured bar food with a southern twist,” according to Teshia, offers an effortless blend of both women’s roots; Mecca is originally from the Bronx, and Teshia was born and raised in Richmond. Mama Lo’s seafood salad is a recipe handed down directly from Teshia’s mother while Mecca’s mac and cheese, and Teshia’s shrimp and salmon soul rolls sit comfortably on the menu alongside options like empanadas.

The drink menu is an ode to the music they love with signature drinks named after songs like Liqueur Purple Rain and the WAP (Weak A$$ punch). One of their most popular drinks is the Karaoke Kool-Aid, beloved not only for its refreshing, fruity flavor but also its affordable $6 price. Ongoing happy hour is proof of the pair’s belief that you shouldn’t need a ton of money to have a good time. Signature drinks are $2 off on Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 5-7 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 4-6 p.m. Other happy hour specials include $10 off hookah, $6 house sangria, $2 hot dogs, and several other discounted food options. The ladies also offer daily specials such as Taco Tunesday, when tacos and jello shots are just $2, and W.A.P.’N. Wingzday when W.A.P. drinks are buy one, get one.

And what would a music-inspired bar be without the music? On Tuesdays, Harlym Blue’z hosts a Name That Tune contest with prizes. On Wednesdays and Fridays, they have open mic sessions and karaoke; on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, they have live music by up-and-coming local artists.

With well thought-out food and beverage service and events nearly every night of the week, the LeSanes hope to attract a steady stream of patrons. Teisha says that the pandemic has been the biggest struggle they’ve faced while getting up and running, noting that constantly changing restrictions and the public’s decreased appetite for dining out have made things more difficult.

Their goal for the space is “to nurture the community.” They hope Harlym Blue’z will grow to become more than just a restaurant or bar, but a neighborhood spot where the community can come together and thrive. Building on Teshia’s background in mental health and Mecca’s teaching experience, the pair ultimately wants to start a nonprofit that would provide enrichment to local kids in the afternoons and summer. With the restaurant as its hub, kids could learn the fundamentals of a music club and running their own business. In the meantime, they’re hosting events to help uplift the community, like the upcoming Making A.M.E.N.’s Night on July 16th, where men come together to acknowledge and discuss common issues in manhood.

As a Black lesbian couple, the LeSanes understand the power of creating community and caring for each other through tough times. They hope their presence [and community involvement] on increasingly thriving Brookland Park Boulevard will highlight the impact of acceptance and local engagement. Quality service and memorable experiences may expand perspectives and bring patrons together, and if people can enjoy live music, home-cooked food, and creative libations while making connections, that’s even better.

Harlym Blue’Z is located at 210 W Brookland Park Blvd and is open Tuesday-Thursday from 5-10 p.m., Friday from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. and Saturday, 4 p.m.-1 a.m.

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