In the late ’70s, Sidney Coffee had an idea for a coffee shop and tea room. It would have had organic foods, art and be located near the south gates of LSU.
“We may as well have been bugs on the wall,” she said, laughing. “We had people saying, ‘You want to do what? No, no, it’s not going to work.’”
The space was going to be called The Guru, or back then, The Goux Roux.
It’s taken some time, but now, Coffee is getting the last laugh.
Last year, Coffee opened The Guru in Mid City at 1857 Government St. The space was originally rented out for events like wedding rehearsal dinners. But Coffee always had bigger plans — musically speaking — for the space.
“This is very much a listening room,” she said. “Before I opened, I had a couple of focus groups, and one of the things that kept coming up was music. I tried and tried to get stuff going, and it didn’t happen.”
Last fall, Coffee met Kay Willson, founder of Blondefire Music Productions, an organization that works primarily with Baton Rouge bands. Immediately after Willson saw the space, she said she had to work with Coffee in bringing music to The Guru.
Since meeting, Willson has taken over as the space’s music coordinator. Coffee and Willson have also been working with events manager Garrett Kemp, who built a stage and does graphic design for Guru events.
Gradually, Coffee got her musical wish, and acoustic local music started coming to The Guru.
First, it was a performance from Denton Hatcher. Then, it was Minos the Saint’s Peter Simon and Ben Herrington. The Guru hosted its first open mic night on Jan. 21.
“We want to take the existing, wonderful musicians in Baton Rouge and let them be as creative as they want to be, in a setting you might not find them in,” Coffee said.
Throughout the early shows, Coffee has noticed a mix of crowds, young and old, and even more musicians coming to check out the space. Coffee said it’s a space where performance can have a “musical conversation.”
And there’s much more in store.
“One of the things we wanted to do for people was to provide an experience you can’t get somewhere else,” Willson said. “We’ll have specialized events that will hit specific tastes. We’ll keep doing acoustic and open mic nights. We don’t want to overdo certain things, but we want to keep adding to the experience of coming to this space.”
Follow Matthew Sigur on Twitter, @MatthewSigur.