Records spinning in the background, coffee brewing, lovingly prepared snacks on offer, vinyl stacks to browse through… It’s such an appealing concept we half-wonder why it didn’t take off sooner. Either way, the record cafe has enjoyed a noted rise lately, with mini muso/foodie paradises appearing up and the down the country.
Feeding into the ‘vinyl renaissance’ of recent years, such places are by no means the sole refuge of old collectors. Or, indeed, young beardy hipsters.
“It’s people of all ages, people who are very internet-literate, but people aren’t evolving as quickly as technology is,” says Paul, who previously worked at HMV and Southern Records, and now co-owns The LP Cafe in Watford. “Which means people are still responding to whole albums the way they always did.”
Unsurprisingly, such operations carry a heavy nostalgia factor. Places like The LP Cafe seek to resuscitate the experience of sitting and enjoying a full record – in an inviting, relaxed environment. “I could see vinyl sales in record shops struggling, and it went against a simple activity that made perfect sense to me,” he says, “i.e. just putting on a record and chilling out.”
Fancy opening your own record cafe? Paul has this advice: “Focus on your local community, and what it can offer you. It’s what makes it special to us anyway.”
Pay a visit to one (or make like a vinyl tourist and hit ‘em all) of these lovely set-ups and see what the fuss is all about…
The LP Cafe, Watford
Proper rocket fuel coffee, home-baked ciabattas, comedy nights and even a sewing club accompany the diverse, rock-friendly wax at The LP Cafe. Sleeves for Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Dark Side Of The Moon decorate white walls, as well as the likes of Goat and Fugazi. Staff alternate their own background vinyl choices with those of their customers – a diverse mix of art students, mums, vinyl tourists and a healthy spread of regulars. Yes it’s a small, unfussy set-up, but the unpretentious warmth and character at work easily explains its popularity.
Good for: Friendly staff and serious coffee.
Pie & Vinyl, Southsea
Be under no illusion, this place really does serve pies and mash and vinyl. Chicken and chorizo pie, all-day breakfast pie, Piecarumba (a burrito in a pie!)… we could go on, as there are many more. 32 in total. Proof that, in the record cafe world, pie really does equal MC…oh bugger, we don’t know – it’s just really good. “We offer a unique experience to sit and discover new music whilst enjoying the classic traditional surroundings,” says owner Rob. “We hold regular in-store performances, including this Thursday [i.e. today] when we welcome the legendary Steve Hackett for a Q&A session. We are also participating in Record Store Day on the 18th April.”
Good for: Pie pie pie pie pie pie….
You can read the rest of this article on the Classic Rock Magazine Website