Harlow coffee shop Esquires has started monthly open mic nights to bring music back to the town centre.
The Water Gardens outlet now has an alcohol licence and sells beer, cider, wine and even Prosecco in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday. In addition to the Coffee Sessions-branded open mic nights, quiz nights have also become a fixture on their calendar.
Sharon Siracusa, shop manager, said: “The Square (music venue) closed and it has left a sad void in the culture of Harlow.
“We have set up events to bring local performers into the town centre. It is proving to be a great success and the place is packed. There has been so much positive feedback.”
Acts are playing acoustic music, typically singing with guitars, at the live music nights where any performers are encouraged to play to as many as the café can hold.
Mrs Siracusa is looking forward to another open mic night September 7 from 7pm. There is also opportunity for poets, speakers and story tellers to perform.
Remarkably their keen audiences have been gathered through little more than promotion on social media. Mrs Siracusa is surprised at the success of the open mic nights in just a few months and said that town councillors have been coming along too.
“There is nothing like this in Harlow,” she added. “There is not a lot left in Harlow now everything is closing down. It is a nice place you can go to in the evening and feel safe. I have seen older and younger people there too enjoying what we are doing, they want to be part of the vibe.”
In addition to the selection of coffee and drinks, Esquires also offers customers pizza and tapas to eat. The next quiz night will be on Thursday, 14 September.
Mrs Siracusa said: “I am not corporate. I am trying to be more independent and give something back to the community. It is a positive thing and it is proving very popular.”