Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Local Beat

One of my favorite, and pretty innocent, vices is spending quality time in coffee houses and cafes (this tale already spun in a previous post, Cafe Society). The recently opened "The Local Beat" on Third St. in New Cumberland called out to be investigated by your intrepid reporter, so I'm taking advantage of the break in rainy days to do just that. The young owners, musician Joe "Catfish" Vandall and chef David Davare Jr. have been working for seven months to salvage the old Cumberland Tavern, sitting closed for six years, with the goal of bringing together art, live music and intriguing food. Not easy to open a business right now, especially in the discretionary spending category, and while they are lucky or skilled in getting press coverage (all good notices), daytime business seems nonexistent. Music nights have been successful, and groups from out of state are coming in (Joe's mom even plays violin in his own roots music band). The nearest college is the new Harrisburg University downtown (that would seem to be more of a target audience than the locals), but they are probably mostly city commuters without cars, unfortunately.
About 13 artists' work is displayed inside, the most striking of which are Rebecca Adey's cut-paper portraits of familiar faces (Johnny Cash, Twiggy, Marilyn). The other area cafe with a similar ambience (but not as bohemian), The Crimson Frog, has a tiny stage designed for solo acts; here the stage takes up the entire back end and is well-equipped with P.A. and board. It says they're serious about the music as an integral, essential part of the enterprise.
Haven't tried the food yet, but David has years of experience and is fluent in Asian, Latin and California-style fusion of the two (i.e., Thai chicken satay and carnitas). I'm helping out with sprucing up the exterior to help in attracting some customers, and plants and outdoor seating are on the way. If you could operate this as a hobby instead of worrying about the bills and overhead, it would be a lot of fun (but who could do that?) .

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