Local music mavericks go west in pursuit of musical kicks and damn fine coffee.
In Ardmore there are two sides to every proposal. One begs to maintain the historic architecture and posh charm of Main Line proper. The other presents a case for the economic and structural rebuilding of the entire borough. Despite their differences, there's one thing both sides agree upon: MilkBoy Coffee is good for business.
According to co-owner Jamie Lokoff, "The township has been onboard with us since day one. We're proof that you can bring new business into town without having to knock down any buildings or upset the general balance in the process."
MilkBoy Coffee opened its doors on Feb. 18. The downtown beanery stands as a testament to all things artistic and musical, steeped in the tradition of communal gathering.
"We wanted to provide a vehicle that would bring people together," Lokoff says. "Music is the primary engine, but the other things aren't far behind."
Those other things include poetry slams, open-mike nights, "open-reel" nights and First Friday events featuring the work of local talent. The music menu promises a diverse selection, tempting the palates of both folk and punk aficionados.
"We've targeted an underage crowd," Lokoff says. "There are more than 20 high schools and colleges within a 3-mile radius. We want young people to come in and say, 'This is my place, and it's cool.' Kids are much more sophisticated today. They're exposed to a lot because they have 160 channels to choose from. They have the Internet. They're in touch with so many more people and things. Because of that, they're more mature. They need a place like this, where they can be young adults."
The Main Line has been starved for a bohemian-style music venue since the Point closed its doors last June. Lokoff's partner Tommy Joyner (who, with Lokoff, also runs the nearby MilkBoy Recording Studio) claims the Point's closing had little to do with their decision to set up shop just a mile down the road.
"When we game-planned this whole thing, we had no way of knowing the Point would shut down," Joyner says. "Ironically, a lot of the sound equipment we have was purchased from the Point when it closed."
Lokoff agrees. "There are elements that naturally connect us to the Point, but our approach is much different. We want to feed people's artistic minds."
The location for their new cafe-a historic building that formerly housed the Heisman Fine Arts Gallery-seemed to fit perfectly.
"Ultimately we think we can make a bigger splash in Ardmore," Lokoff says. "If we moved deeper into the city or over to Manayunk, we'd be just another studio or coffeehouse. Here we stand out."
Although still early on in the booking process, MilkBoy looks forward to hosting a bevy of local musicians, including Philly faves Townhall and local six-stringer Josh Komorowski.
"We think we've tapped into something unique here," boasts Joyner.
"Yeah," adds Lokoff. "This is just the beginning."
2 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore. 610.MILKBOY. www.milkboycoffee.com