Menlo Park church launches weekly cafe, music venue


Starting in October, there'll be a new music venue and cafe in town, open only on Sundays. Bethany Lutheran Church, located at 1095 Cloud Ave. in West Menlo Park, will transform its family area into "The Coffee Shop & Music Lounge" each Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m., according to Viliami Finau, communications and marketing manager at the church.

The space will be open to the public and not overtly religious. The intent of the coffee shop is "not to push any sort of religious agenda on people" said Mr. Finau.

The space will be a spot where students can go to get homework done using the free Wi-Fi onsite and where people can sit, chat and enjoy a latte, he said.

The cafe, which will offer coffee, espresso and snacks, will not have fixed prices, Mr. Finau said, but will operate on a donation basis.

Whether visitors pay $1 or $4, he said, "We'll make you a great cup of coffee."

If additional funds are received from cafe donations beyond operational costs, they will go toward improving the coffee and music program, he said.

The church will also offer its stage and sound equipment for use by local musicians each Sunday from 6 to 8 p.m.

"We want to be open to the community and use the space to promote artists and give (them) a venue to showcase their talent," Mr. Finau said.

Nearby musical acts from Menlo-Atherton High School and Stanford, Foothill and Canada colleges, for instance, will be able to perform at the venue. And, if the program is successful and more funds become available, the organizers could consider bringing bigger names to the venue, he said.

The last Sunday of each month will be an open mic night, where anybody can sign up to perform. Sign ups are still being accepted for the first open mic night on Oct. 30, he said.

The following week, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9, the first musical performance at the venue is scheduled. Headlining the show will be musician Eddy Dyno, who routinely busks on the streets in downtown Palo Alto before large crowds, Mr. Finau said.

The idea of launching a coffee shop and performance venue out of a church sprang from internal meetings about how to make the church "more open to the public and more relevant," he said.

"The church and everyone here really backed it up," he said. "We're excited to move forward with it."

The lineup for October is as follows:

● Oct 9. Eddy Dyno and Company - 6 to 8 p.m.

● Oct. 16. Holly Smolik - 6 to 8 p.m.

● Oct. 23. The Acoustic Session with Saane - 6 to 8 p.m.

● Oct 30. Open Mic Night - 6 to 8 p.m.

Go to the Coffee Shop & Music Lounge Facebook page for more information and updates.

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