Over the last few years, the Broad Street Cafe has become a fixture on both the coffee and events scene in Durham, bringing in traffic throughout the day for java and espresso and adding everything from live music to poetry jams to poker games at night.
Throughout it all, Broad Street Cafe's had a kind of comfortable-old-shoe feel, with worn old couches and shaky tables kind of giving the place the feeling of that basement space your dad converted into a family room -- you know, the one with the big TV in the corner and the pool table slouching in the corner?
Earlier this year, owner Jonathan Tagg announced his interest in finding a co-owner to help provide him the resources, in both time and money, to help the BSC expand its hours and operations. He found that co-owner in Daphne Lagasse, a veteran chef formerly of the Nomadic Catering Company, and they've spent 35 days closed down while renovating the joint.
The new, repurposed Broad Street Cafe re-opened Sunday night at 6pm, just in time to accommodate a previously-scheduled engagement. We had a chance to take a sneak peek at the space Sunday afternoon as final prep was underway for the re-opening. Let's just say that if you're a Broad Street Cafe regular, you're in for a surprise the first time you walk through the door.
The space has a dramatically different feel to it, with the concrete bar in the center perhaps the only element directly linked to the old cafe. It will continue to serve up coffee and coffee drinks all day long, though the full bar to its rear shows a continuation of the adults-beverage theme that's long been focused on beer and wine at the BSC. (The Cafe now features fifteen beers on tap and thirty bottled beers.)
The Broad St. side of the house now has a much more formal performance stage, with professional lighting and sound opening up the door for more significant event and music bookings.
In front of the stage sit restaurant-style tables clustered close-in around the performance area, giving the cafe more of an eatery feel. This is no accident: the renovated cafe will put much more emphasis on dining than its predecessor, now offering burgers, calzones, salads, sandwiches and appetizers at lunch and dinner, and with Sunday brunch starting in October.
The signature food option at the BSC will be wood-fired pizzas, straight from a new oven that takes a very prominent place in the cafe, visible right as you walk in.
The rear half of the cafe -- back where the restrooms and kitchen are and where the kids' area used to be -- contains more seating, but feels more visually isolated from the front-of-house thanks to a high wood table and a partition wall. Co-owner Tagg notes that this provides more flexibility in the cafe, allowing an event to be happening at the stage up-front while diners or a group talking over coffee can spend time hanging out in the back and enjoying conversation with the music as a backdrop.
Speaking of music, the Cafe's new policy on shows: no cover charges, ever.
The Cafe is also expanding its seven-day-a-week hours, planning to open at 8am daily (except 10am Sundays) and to stay open until sometime between 10pm and 2am each night. For the month of August, the Cafe will be closed on Mondays -- so if you're planning to check it out yourself, wait until tomorrow.