On December 30, the historic Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York will once again open their doors following six months of construction and renovation. The eager patrons of the landmark venue have quickly snapped up tickets and the “re-opening” night concert featuring The Suitcase Junket is now officially sold out. The January 2017 schedule in the newly renovated room features the Caffè’s signature mix of diverse performers that have made this listening room a national treasure. Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen, Bill Staines and Red Tail Ring are just a few of the scheduled artists in the first weeks of the new year. Also, there will be some special events such as Hattie’s Annual Mardi Gras Soiree on January 14, 2017. This event will be held at the Cansfield Casino in Saratoga Springs with all proceeds benefiting the Caffè Lena Endowment Fund.
The nations’ oldest continuously operating folk music coffeehouse had seen little change since opening in 1960 (and very little work was done by previous tenants of the building that dates back to the 1800s), but structural decay of the building coupled with the need to bring the facility up to contemporary standards made the renovation a necessity. After years of planning, a restoration fund drive was launched in 2015 to enable Caffè Lena to provide full accessibility to the venue’s second floor, expand the listening room, reinforce the floors, modernize the plumbing and electrical systems as well as update the roof. The Caffè closed during the spring and work began in earnest, uncovering surprises and new challenges on almost a daily basis. By all reports, the results have been well worth it.
Tradespeople are still hard at work putting the final touches on the new room. The new elevator is nearly complete, although it won’t be online until sometime in the late spring. There are new entrance stairs to allow for easier access and installation has begun on new handcrafted acoustic ceiling tiles. New wainscoting has been added to the listening room, and the kitchen is receiving delivery of equipment this week. The seating has been expanded and traffic patterns in the room have been improved. Folks who visit the renovated Caffè Lena will enjoy these new features, but also feel right at home. Great care has been taken to preserve the atmosphere and spirit of the original room, and the changes made will make for an enhanced experience for both performers and audience members.
For five decades, Caffè Lena has been an important stop for folk music artists and fans. A virtual who’s who of the world of traditional and contemporary folk music has graced the stage, and the schedule also features many up and coming artists that are making important contributions to the folk community. In addition to folk artists, Caffè Lena is home to various poetry and theatrical events. In 1989, following original owner Lena Spencer’s death, the venue became a non-profit organization run by a small paid staff, a Board of Directors, and a loyal and eager group of volunteers. These needed repairs and renovations will allow Caffè Lena to continue their mission as an internationally renowned cultural center that will benefits the community of Saratoga Springs as well as folk music fans world wide.
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You can help the non-profit Caffè Lena during this renovation project by making a tax deductible donation to the Campaign For Caffè Lena – click HERE.