… And All That Jazz

Photo by Ryan Pietraszek.

Cafeteria Coffee House is a Main Street mainstay in New Paltz. Local residents, tourists and students alike flock to the independent coffee house, which boasts a full menu of coffees, teas, espresso beverages and milk shakes. With its exposed brick walls, mismatched furniture and ever-changing artwork, Cafeteria offers a certain je ne sais quoi that Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts simply cannot rival.

Yet Cafeteria isn’t just a coffee shop: on Sundays, it doubles as a concert venue.

Every Sunday afternoon, Cafeteria hosts Jazz Sundays, a music event featuring live jazz. The shop welcomes different musicians to come play their favorite jazz tunes for four hours. As music fills the air, students congregate to work on schoolwork, and frequent patrons gather to enjoy the music with a perfect cup of joe.

Tanner Townsend, 34, owner of Cafeteria Coffee House and The Crafted Kup coffee shop in Poughkeepsie, New York, said that Cafeteria has hosted Jazz Sundays regularly for two years. Townsend and Cafeteria’s shop manager schedule the live music events and post them to the shop’s online event calendar. Since its beginning, Townsend has received positive feedback about the event.

“People seem to truly love the atmosphere that is created between the music and the space itself,” Townsend said.

Samantha Wahl, an employee at Cafeteria, said last Sunday that the weekly event attracts a large crowd; people often come to the coffee shop particularly for Jazz Sundays. Every weekend, Wahl notices New Paltz students and families from the local community who come inside to enjoy the free entertainment.

“I think it’s a really nice thing,” Wahl said. “I have customers come in all the time who ask, ‘Where’s the jazz?’”

Usually, the same musicians play the event, Wahl said. The bassist, John Drechsler, and the guitarist, Bill Nastasi, perform almost every week, and other musicians fill the empty spots within the band.

First-year fine arts major Emily Feigelman attended this past Sunday’s jazz show. She said it was her first time at the event, and she enjoyed the music. She loves studying at Cafeteria, which she called a “great social hub.”

“It’s easy to study here,” she added. “It’s a good environment.”

Liz Dragan, a first-year art history major, also attended the weekly performance for the first time. Dragan said she usually listens to jazz anyway while she studies, so she loved not having to wear headphones to enjoy some tunes. Though she said Cafeteria can be a little loud at times, Dragan still prefers the coffee house over her dorm room.

Other students are Jazz Sunday regulars. Ali Dahlem, a second-year sociology major, and Michaela Mudaro, a second-year psychology and sociology major, can often be found at Cafeteria on Sunday afternoons. Both agreed that the live music (and Cafeteria’s comfy, friendly atmosphere) is conducive to studying. Mudaro said she visits Cafeteria at least once a week, and Dahlem agreed.

Coffee enthusiasts can bask in the glory of strong java and smooth jazz every Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at 58 Main St.