New business brings dueling pianos back to Columbia’s Vista

Music fans in the Midlands soon will have another place to catch live performances, with a twist not available locally in recent years.

Rocket Man, a dueling piano bar, is coming Vista Station at 700 Gervais St. The bar will open its doors to the public Aug. 27, with a grand opening party planned for Sept. 6.

The new business is owned by Jonathan Burgess and Rob Hutchinson. Hutchinson was a partner in Crocodile Rocks, a similar bar that closed close to a decade ago. The owners say the Vista has changed a great deal since those days.

Rocket Man“Ten years ago it was basically just them and Jillian’s,” Burgess said, noting the presence of many other businesses in The Vista now, bringing many more shoppers and potential dueling piano fans. “When we found this location, everything fell into place.”

Hutchinson is a Columbia resident and will handle the day-to-day operations of the bar, while Burgess lives in Charlotte but has been visiting Columbia regularly for years, particularly for University of South Carolina football games.

“I enjoy Columbia, the environment, the people,” Burgess said. “We’ve been overwhelmed with the hospitality we’ve already been shown, and the excitement and buzz. We feel like we’ve been welcomed and we haven’t even opened yet.”

The opening is coming soon, and Burgess says the new bar will be “an environment and a show for everyone. There’s something for anyone from 21 to 81, no matter what kind of music you like.”

Vista Guild Executive Director Sarah Lewis said Rocket Man is “certainly a great business concept and fit for The Vista. It’s an exciting and fun new option for locals and tourists to enjoy.”

Rocket Man will feature a trivia night Wednesdays, led by one of the pianists and with live music mixed in. Thursday nights will be college nights, with specials for students, and Fridays and Saturdays will be all about the dueling pianos, with performers interacting with the crowd and taking requests.