Acceptance. That’s what makes open mic night at Hartford Coffee Co. so refreshing.
BY KIM OSWALT | THE NEW TERRITORY ISSUE 03
As you drive down Hartford Street in the Tower Grove South neighborhood of St. Louis, it’s easy to miss the coffee shop on the corner.
It blends in with a row of two-story brick houses and doesn’t seem to make much of an effort to draw attention to itself.
This shop isn’t like the others. It’s not expensive or trendy or only accessible to 20-something hipsters with beanies and skinny jeans typing away on MacBook computers. It’s clean and well-lit with plenty of windows and light-stained wood. One wall is always covered with images by a local artist.
Tonight is open mic night. Every Friday at 7:30pm, performers of all ages and styles shuffle in with friends or family members. Some come alone.
Each time the door opens, all eyes are drawn to the front corner of the restaurant. The regulars nod or give a small wave as new arrivals come in, sign the sheet and make their way to an empty spot at a table.
A tall, lanky young man enters with his parents, and they move to the back of the restaurant. His hands are shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans, and he walks quickly, curling his shoulders and causing his too-large flannel shirt to hang loosely in front of his body.
He does not greet anyone when he walks in, and he does not sign the paper.
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