Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 5, 2013

SALISBURY — If you’ve wondered about the blue lights glowing in the windows next to Mambo Grill, satisfy your curiosity when MG Lounge opens tonight.
Mambo owner Ariella Sanchez will unveil her newest venture at 1024 S. Fulton St. at 5 p.m. The bar — “MG” stands for Mambo Grill — offers wine, cocktails and 50 different craft beers in the former Ibiza Deli space, as well as a small plates menu with eight substantial appetizers.
The deli closed last year after a short run, and Sanchez has been working on the new project since February.
“When we opened the deli, we were selling a lot of beer and wine, and we kind of decided the town was thirsty,” she said. “We want to give the town a place to go and hang out, someplace comfortable.”
Sanchez wanted texture, and she found it with decor ranging from leather to wood to metal to bamboo. Local contractor Hugo Correa went to work making Sanchez’s vision a reality.
A copper-topped bar purchased from the now-defunct Copperhead Tavern welcomes customers to belly up, and seating ranges from six pub tables to an upholstered bench that can easily seat seven or eight.
Bamboo handpainted in metallic colors stands in custom-made wooden dividers, providing some privacy for three additional seating areas that feature small couches, glass tables and leather chairs and stools.
Beer costs between $3 for a regular bottle and $20 for a 22- to 25-ounce bottle, enough to share with a friend. Spanish and Argentinian wines start at $5 a glass, and classic cocktails with a twist include a ginger mojito, Long Island green tea and a warm “not-so sangria” for $7 to $10.
Chef Hampton Ratcliff will prepare small plates ranging from parmesan-encrusted Hawaiian bread with slow-roasted pork ($6) to scallops with bacon jam ($12). Vegetarians have several options.
Ratcliff will share Mambo’s kitchen with chef Roger Espinosa, Sanchez’s brother-in-law. Sanchez plans to change the food line-up each month, hence the unique menu — a handmade, wooden clipboard holding separate lists for food, wine, beer and cocktails. That way, she can swap out the small plates section without reprinting everything.
Customers can order food until the bar closes, which will be whenever the last person leaves, Sanchez said. Official hours are 5 p.m. “until” on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
This week, the lounge will offer live music on Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight.
MG Lounge has 13 beers that no other bar in Rowan County offers, Sanchez said, including two on tap — Crazy Mountain Livin’ and Hopulent IPA. In all, the bar has seven draft craft beers.
“We want people to say, ‘We don’t have to go all the way to Charlotte,’ “ Sanchez said. “We can have this great experience here in Salisbury.”

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.