Harmony Café prepares for a move to College Avenue

Maggie Waz

While many businesses are closing their doors due to the recession, nonprofit organization Harmony Café is doing just the opposite: moving to a larger and more prominent location. The addition of Harmony Café to the changing facade of College Avenue will benefit a great number of people. The Café’s current location at 124 N. Oneida Street, near the bus station and the Appleton Public Library, makes many students feel as if it is inaccessible.
Carolyn Armstrong, a Lawrence student heavily involved in organizing the music events at the Café, said, “People just don’t know where we are.”
To some extent, this is true. Oneida Street is inconvenienced by being cut in half by City Center Plaza. On the other hand, some students who are aware of the Café’s location are perhaps more drawn by the perceived convenience of Starbucks or Brewed Awakenings. For these reasons, a new College Avenue address could significantly alter or increase Harmony’s clientele.
Both Armstrong and Shannon Kenevan, the founder of Harmony Café, expressed enthusiasm about what the move could do in terms of attracting Lawrence students and getting them more involved not only in the cultural programs offered by the Café but also the more community-centered ones that could help in lessening the pull of the infamous Lawrence Bubble.
Harmony Café provides meeting space for groups and opportunities for people in the community to meet others with their interests. Weekly open mikes, support groups and conversation programs, not to mention a varied selection of live music, prove that Appleton really does have quite a bit to offer; Lawrence students simply have to seek out their entertainments.
The Café will be moved to a much larger and more visible location: the southwest corner of Durkee Street and College Avenue. It’s the old location of Pilgrim’s Café described by Kenevan as “just [a] beautiful, old and historic” building.
The new location, in addition to being very close to campus, will provide a larger number of meeting rooms to accommodate some of Harmony’s very successful programs.
But just as this move might attract new faces, it does have potential drawbacks. Kenevan is concerned with customers being put off by the change in location, which might inconvenience people who live close to the current location. The lack of proximity to two of the city’s downtown parking ramps might inconvenience another group of Harmony customers. Kenevan is confident, though, that the larger size and more visible location of the new Harmony will more than make up for those problems.
The Café will close April 9 at its current location and reopen at the new one April 22, which is not so coincidentally Earth Day. Kenevan hopes the reopening date will nicely reinforce Harmony’s environmental focus and highlight its sustainability initiatives. Future events at the current location include the Technicolor Valentines Bash Feb. 14 and a performance by Lawrence band The Chairs Feb. 27.