Thursday, February 4, 2010

we hold these truths to be self-evident

1) That Mayorga Coffee Roasters was a community institution, providing caffeine, comfy chairs and occasionally live music to those who lived in or passed through South Silver Spring,

south silver spring in 2002
South Silver Spring, shown here in 2002, needs destinations to draw people who already go Downtown.

2) That, with several thousand square feet of space (like many buildings in South Silver Spring, it was a factory), it was an unusually large space for a coffeeshop and difficult to make profitable,

3) That it was a long walk from stuff people wanted to do and therefore had trouble attracting "accidental" customers,

4) And, with limited short-term parking, the location may be a poor fit for other retail uses as customers who arrive by car find they can't just run in and grab a cup of coffee,

5) But, despite all of these things, the strength of South Silver Spring as a community and as a destination hinges on there being something in this large, prominently located space.

Arts Alley
A club might be a good way to activate Arts Alley, which runs behind the space, on evenings and weekends.

That's why I propose that the former Mayorga Coffee Roasters become a music hall. It would have to serve food, because the liquor laws require it and there's already a kitchen, so why not. But put in a stage and maybe some seats (or maybe not, you know, I go to the seat-less 9:30 Club and it's perfectly fine) and have live music there.

You have something to activate Arts Alley, which runs behind the space, and an anchor for South Silver Spring - something to draw people to other stores in the area during the day and after dark, depending on when shows are scheduled. As a destination where people will stay for hours at a time, you don't need to worry about providing short-term parking. Not to mention that you're in a neighborhood with lots of young people living in apartments who likely will not complain about the noise.

The 930 Club!
The former Mayorga space is similar in size to local music venues like the 9:30 Club in D.C.

That's not to say that we shouldn't have the Fillmore, because it's coming anyway and it'll be an awesome asset to the area. (Michael Bolton? Yes, please!) But there's also a local music scene in Silver Spring that could use venues of its own, and this site may be able to offer one.

Punk bands live and play at houses like the Corpse Fortress in Fenton Village or Scumbag Nation in Colesville. Positive Youth Fest, an "annual celebration of Do-It-Yourself culture, music and activism," held its last festival at the Electric Maid Takoma. Nationally touring folk artists perform at the Dawson house in Glenmont.

Meanwhile, East County is home to a famous jazz guitarist who played with Bo Diddley, a folk revivalist who appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, and a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter.

These are communities that would benefit from having a nice, centrally-located performance space, larger and more versatile than a house but more accessible and intimate than the Fillmore will be. Yes, there are some considerable problems to setting one up in the former Mayorga site - namely, money. But if an investor came along with a few bills and a desire to make something out of this diamond in the rough, turning it into a music hall might be a smart way to turn a profit.

Or, at the very least, it'd be a cool thing to have in the neighborhood and a most spectacular way for said investor to spend his entire life savings.


Joe said...

In other news, Dejabel in Wheaton announced via mass e-mail that they have now closed...

retgroclk said...

I wish Silver Spring or Wheaton had a large open air market building- sort of like Eastern Market or Lexington Market.

The stalls would fill up the big space buildings and the high rent would be divided among the vendors.
It would also provide a wide variety of foods and crafts under one roof and give people a chance to experience the number of ethnic groups in the area.

Bob Fustero

Unknown said...

Great idea about the Mayorga space becoming a music venue!!! (Though parking would still remain the Achilles Heel.)