By John Philip Wyllie
On successive weekends last month, customers at Adams Avenue’s Kensington Café enjoyed musical entertainment as they sipped their coffee and wine and munched on tapas and desserts.
On the evening of July 17, an up-and-coming brother duo, Ottopilot, kicked off the café’s new monthly music-night series. Then on July 25, patrons strutted their stuff during the café’s popular monthly open mic night.
The Kensington Café has long been a hub for musicians and artists. For years it was a place where they could showcase their abilities, but over time live music gradually was phased out. In recent years the café has gone through a number of changes including a major remodel, various upgrades in its menu offerings and, most importantly, a change of ownership and direction.
Current owner Lauren Passero is a strong supporter of the arts, while manager Amanda Patinkin is both a professional dancer and an accomplished singer/ songwriter. Together they are hoping to put the Kensington Café back on the musical map.
“Before Lauren took over, there used to be an open mic night held here,” said Patinkin, who had just finished performing some of her original folk compositions with Patty Carpenter backing her on guitar. “It was supposedly a really wonderful, amazing thing that they used to do on Sunday nights. I guess it died down and then just petered out. When Lauren took over, she expressed an interest in rekindling it. When I came into the picture eight months ago, she shared her vision regarding music and I latched on to it immediately.”
Since then, the Kensington Café has held its open mic night the third Sunday of each month. Judging from a recent turnout, it appears live music will be a regular feature there for the foreseeable future.
As it turns out, most of the employees at the Kensington Café have backgrounds in music, the visual arts or both. Several took the stage on July 25 as they have on previous open mic nights.
“The Kensington Café is a real magnet for (artistically minded people),” Patinkin said. “People love to work here and they use this as a medium for whatever else they do. We have movie nights, art shows, trunk shows, open mic nights and (most recently) music nights (where one musician or a band will perform a full-length show).”
It is a place that offers something for everybody.
“If you are a musician, you can perform for one of our music nights or join in the fun at open mic night. If you are an artist, we have art night for you and if you are an employee, we will feature your work on our walls. We have a very open environment that supports artists and musicians,” she said.
The Kensington Café thrives on the support it gets from the surrounding community, but it attracts people from all over the Uptown area.
“It’s an eclectic, amazing coagulation of people that hang out here,” Patinkin said. “It is a magnet for every walk. The music is performed in a very non-judgmental atmosphere. People can do their thing here. It’s a very supportive and open atmosphere.”
4141 Adams Ave.
Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.