Nine years ago, when Matt Taylor opened the Eclectic Cafe on Laurel Street, the idea of an all-original music venue in Brainerd with shows every weekend was a farfetched dream.
Last week, when the coffeehouse (known to regulars as "the E") opened in its bigger and better space at 216 S. Eighth St., its reputation as the lakes area's spot for original tunes had been firmly established.
Taylor and wife Jess have plans to expand that reputation. The new joint boasts a bigger food menu. And in the summer, the Taylors hope to remake the back room into a place for heavier bands.
Patrons enjoyed food and drink Friday at the Eclectic Cafe in Brainerd. The cafe moved to 216 S. Eighth St. after nine years on Laurel Street. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
As Hazel Strange and the Julie Puppets christened the new venue Friday, the Dispatch asked nine patrons and three musicians to share their thoughts.
- By John Hansen, Entertainment Editor
Accountant, 23, Brainerd
Favorite thing about the new E: "The steak."
Favorite E band: "A Whisper in the Noise. It's different from most bands that play at the Eclectic. It's an interesting combination."
"Router monkey," 32, Brainerd
Favorite thing about the new E: "It has the same people that made the old place my favorite place to hang out."
Favorite E band: "Julie Puppets. I like the style of their music. They have an incredibly tight, classy performance."
Student, 30, Madison, Wis.
Favorite thing about the new E: "I'm really excited for Matt and Jess to own the building and have a bigger place."
Favorite E band: "The Brass Kings. They are very energetic and good at what they do."
Architecture student, 23, Fargo, N.D.
Favorite thing about the new E: "More space. It's an opportunity to grow and expand and really get their name out there in the community."
Favorite E band: "Angie Stevens, because of the presence she brings to the stage and the way she interacts with the audience. She puts on a really good show with a lot of activity and emotion."
Music this month at the Eclectic Cafe
All shows start at 9 p.m. at 216 S. Eighth St. in Brainerd. Cover charges vary. For more information, visit www.eclecticcafe.us.
Ded Walleye, Thursday
Jason Borden, Friday
Menagabation and Porpioushork, Saturday
No Pride, Jan. 20
Mary Bue with Emily Hammer, Jan. 26
Niobium, Avenpitch and Sight Like December, Jan. 27 (Grand Opening Party)
Vacuum saleswoman, 22, Emily
Favorite thing about the new E: "I love the open space and the people, especially the baristas."
Favorite E band: "Sight Like December. I like the variety of instruments and the music is amazing."
Inserter at the Dispatch, 23, Nisswa
Favorite thing about the new E: "The possibility of the size here. The old one evolved over so many years and it's going to be really interesting to see what happens here."
Favorite E band: "Sight Like December. I really like Steve Johnson's lyrics. Rob, their saxophonist, is always entertaining."
Program manager for non-profit organization, 53, Brainerd
Favorite thing about the new E: "The age mix. This is really a cool place where middle-aged women like myself can mix it up with people with purple hair, and everyone feels comfortable. I also support local businesses. I'd really like to see a place like this succeed."
Favorite E bands: "Charlie Parr and 40 Watt Bulb. I like to go to the Grassroots Concerts and this is a nice fill-in for in between."
Sociology teacher at Central Lakes College, 58, Brainerd
Favorite thing about the new E: "The ownership, because they have tried so hard for so long to bring good music to the area. They support local musicians, the genuine article. I'm for local business and family business and this is everything all wrapped into one."
Favorite E band: "I've got so many friends, I'm afraid to say. I'm going to go neutral on that."
Advertising director, 29, Minneapolis
Favorite thing about the new E: "The potential for the back room and outside area. I think it'll be fun in the summer."
Favorite E band: "Julie Puppets. I just think their music is all original and fantastic. They are a very energetic band."
Guitar player for Julie Puppets/air traffic control student, 26, Minneapolis
Favorite thing about the new E: "I like the openness of it."
Favorite E band: "Julie Puppets because I'm in it. So I'm biased."
Guitar player for Hazel Strange/network administrator, 30, St. Louis Park
Favorite thing about the new E: "The back room. Hopefully they'll invite us back to be the first band to play back there, too."
Favorite E bands: "The Julie Puppets. They are friends of ours and a very solid band. They are kind of a Radiohead type. Vicious Aloysius is really good, too, because of the stuff Noah can do on harmonica."
Keyboardist for Hazel Strange/student, 22, Minneapolis
Favorite thing about the new E: "The owners are very supportive and nice. And I like that they're taking great efforts to bring in music that brings people together in Brainerd. It seems like they're doing something good for Brainerd - something that's not a strip club or bar."
Favorite E bands: "I've only seen the Julie Puppets and Vicious Aloysius."
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