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Broad Street Cafe reopens after month's closure, massive renovations

Bsc_new3_2 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.

Bsc_new1_2 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.

Bsc_new2 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.

Comments

Will

With the square footage they have it is no surprise that they needed/wanted to expand their offerings. I look forward to checking it out. I do wish however that a comfortable/intimate coffee shop with an eye towards excellent espresso would move into the downtown area. Along with Barry's pizza shop of course!

katuah

swanky. this will probably be much better for competing with, uh, complementing the Watts Grocery crowd. i hope it works for them. but i will lament the loss of the cozy, run-down vibe, and the kids' zone. i guess parents aren't the target market here - cos a play zone is a big draw for moms & dads, while swanky environments are a turnoff.

Will, what about Blue Coffee?

aburtch

I miss Ooh La Latte...

JNB

It looks like their website has been updated with the new menu & events. No mention of kid-friendly activities/music on Sunday afternoons anymore. I guess they are trying for a different crowd, which is unfortunate since they were one out of a very small group of places that provided a good Sunday afternoon distraction for little ones.

Valerie

On their home page, you can mouse over the little silhouettes of children and see the popup "Our kids shows run Nov through Apr" which is what they did last year (with a note in the newsletter that summer is for outdoor play). I remain hopeful that we'll see Baron von Rumblebuss and friends return this fall.
~Valerie

JNB

Thanks Valerie. I was looking at the 'events' tab & didn't see anything for Sunday afternoons. I'll check it out again.

Will

@ Katuah - Blue Coffee has lots of potential but I'm daydreaming about the kind of shop downtown where the baristas compete and there are weekly cuppings.

Angry Dad

No kid's stuff anymore? That sucks.

Oh well, three more lost customers in this family!

disgruntled poker playa

I used to be a regular every Tuesday night at BSC for poker nights. Not really sure what happened, but there's no more poker nights there now.

I sure hope they bring it back. I understand there was a bit of a falling out between World Tavern Poker and current owners/management.

I doubt I go back though...

Jeff

Another lost customer. No kids area makes it much less desirable. I too am dreaming a downtown coffee space that welcomes the kids in the community....

Valerie

From the Broad Street newsletter this morning: "...Sun: jazz jam 7pm alternating with poetry and grown up storytelling; kids' programs 4:30 begin in late October..."

Blue Coffee has couches and a box of toys, or at least they did last we were there.

John

Kids programs are still on the lineup...November thru April...just like they've always been. You won't see anything on the calendar until then. Menu does include a "kids" menu. The place is still kid/family friendly...not "swanky" (whatever that means)...they just added lunch/dinner/adult beverages (which was something many in the "regular" crowd had been asking for). It's different...but not that different than it was.

GP

I beg to differ. It's a bit swanky and if you have kids it is more different from than it is similar to the old setup. We went there the other night looking for Maple View ice cream, which is not on the menu at this time. With wood chairs/benches replacing comfy couches and children's toys, I doubt we will linger with our two young'uns. It's a nice place, but just not the place it was before, and that's a shame for some of us. Best of luck to it regardless.

BSC fan

The new incarnation is far from "swanky." I'd call it "clean." Before the fixup, the place was a bit of a dump. Whatever it was, it was not working. Kudos to Jonathan, Daphne and partners for sprucing the place up. Making the place more attractive will probably help it SURVIVE! There are much better places in Durham (many of which are free) to take your kids, than a dusty corner of a coffee shop.

GP

Well, it is a matter of opinion. I was fine with it as a "dump" and think there is no shortage of "clean"-looking eateries in the area (though props still remain for the excellent musical offerings). What I see in this thread are several comments that BSC was a great place to take kids, and that there really aren't many places like it where adults can relax together in a place where their children are also entertained. What is the point of taking them somewhere free? I want coffee and muffins when I go out! I don't know if the re-do is a better business model or not, but I do know that what I spend at a cafe is always more with my kids than without them. I don't harbor any ill will toward the new establishment; it just doesn't suit my tastes like the old one did.

North_Raleigh_Guy

I use to venture over to the Cafe from time to time from North Raleigh. Caught a few poetry jams there last year. Glad to hear it is back open. I'm a little sad to hear how different it looks inside, but I will wait until I check it out in person before forming an opinion. Although I must say that I'd rather see them update the place and be more competitive and succeed than keep with the old ways and fail, close up for good, and sell the property to somebody who would just change it anyway. You need to make a profit and I don't think the old formula was doing that for them so they needed to change with the times.

Bam

Is Daphne related to Emeril?

Kevin Davis

Daphne is no relation to Emeril that she knows of - I asked the other day.

I have to admit to being a bit surprised by the reactions expressed on the blog about the changes. Personally, even if BSC is different than it was a month ago, and even if it's not now (say) the place to go hang out with one's little ones, I hope folks would give it a try for a place to grab coffee, have a drink, see a show, etc. BSC has really grown with community support and, even if it's zeitgeist is changing a bit, I hope the community would continue to support a great little business...

durhamfood

Lamb burgers. 'Nuff said :)

I'll be there soon.

Stephanie

In the words of my 4 yr old, "That stinks!"
Most parents are more than fully aware of the plethora of places to take their kids, however, the problem is there are very FEW places to take your children and have them be entertained with other kids and activities while the parents are able to enjoy themselves over coffee and conversation.

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