Blackbird Coffee began its expansion project by starting from scratch, completely gutting the space next door.
“We scrapped the floor all the way down to the dirt and rebuilt the complete infrastructure of the building,” said Blackbird co-owner Jimmy Holder. “Really, all we kept was the shell.”
The new room will include extra seating, new tables, two additional bathrooms, a bar and a stage for performances. An outdoor patio will extends from the new room for customers who want to enjoy the weather.
Blackbird also expanded its kitchen with the intention to make more salads and sandwiches as the restaurant continues to evolve. The front area will be a retail space.
Once all of the renovations are done, there will be an additional 80 seats. New additions downstairs, which most people will not see, include a green room for performers and a maze of hallways for fire safety.
“We officially named [the new space] The Bird House Theater because one of our great passions is theater,” said co-owner Iona Holder, Jimmy’s wife. “We hope to produce theatrical productions, but as we planned this space, it was really important to us that we created a really flexible space that we could rent as a venue for events.”
The downstairs area will be used for overflow seating for Blackbird customers during the day.
“Then at night, we can morph it into anything we want to,” Jimmy said. “It’s a multi-use evolving space.”
This means more space to have meetings and productions.
“[We love] artists,” Iona said. “We were like well, if we were students, [we] would want to [have a space] to put on a show, so that’s what we built.”
Jimmy and Iona plan to adjust the setup, bring in more chairs and tables and do some touch-ups within the next few weeks. A major lighting installation for the theater aspect of the space has not been completed yet. The room should be finished within the next month.
“I am really excited about the [expansion], and the new chairs are really comfortable,” said assistant economics professor Brent Evans. “I think [Blackbird] has the best iced coffee I’ve ever had. [It has a] great atmosphere [and] great stuff. I usually come here three or four times a week.”
Now that Blackbird has more room, customers will no longer need to claim a spot or fight for space.
“[The expansion] needed to happen a long time ago,” said junior Kate Hensley, a nursing major. “I am all for it.”
Blackbird plans to produce its first stage production using the new space in April 2018.