LAFAYETTE — Somewhere, just maybe, Maynard G. Krebs is smiling.
After all, when Teresa Taylor first envisioned this place, Nissi’s Live Music & Bistro, she had Krebs — a coffee-loving, bongo-banging beatnik portrayed by the late Bob Denver on the 1950s and ’60s TV series “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” — in mind.
To Taylor, Krebs represented the tradition of the true coffee house, the offbeat hangout where your money got you more than a cup of joe; there was always live music, art, even the occasional literary rant from the resident Jack Kerouac in training.
“From the very beginning, I wanted a coffee house,” Taylor says, stretched out in a red vinyl chair inside Nissi’s, a new hot spot showcasing local, up-and-coming entertainers and a menu to boot.
Taylor likes to think of this as the modern translation of Krebs’ ideal java hut. It might pick up where that concept left off, an expanded vision where, this month, local singer-songwriter Liz Barnez lays down lyrics and rhythm, comedian Vic Alejandro provides satire and speaker Gil Jones is a contemporary intellectual. And that’s just a sampling.
For Taylor, this is a dream 10 years in the making. A former Boulderite, Taylor moved south to Lafayette 20 years ago with her husband to raise a family. She is a former vocalist and self-avowed member of the “KBCO crowd” who can’t handle standing-room-only concert venues, uncomfortable seating or the ill treatment of hard-working musicians.
She’s also a mother of three, kids with friends looking for something to do on a Friday night.
“I wanted to have a place of community for everybody,” Taylor decided. “I wanted to have a place where teens and college-aged kids who aren’t 21 can see some of the same acts.”
For years, the light bulb in Taylor’s head flickered; she first envisioned a 500-seat auditorium, then a 300-seat venue. At one point, she imagined a recording studio.
The end result: a place to stop for a cup of coffee, breakfast, lunch or a happy-hour drink; an open stage for professional entertainers as well as high school and college bands; a room rented for weddings, receptions and baby showers; and, to some unexpecting visitors, a “very cool place.”
“That’s a pretty popular response, actually,” café manager Tara Ratliff says, tidying up in the performance area, a room with mustard-colored walls, table seating and a stage as centerpiece.
Nissi’s can seat about 150 people, an intentionally intimate setting that ensures the community appeal Taylor was going for. Her husband, T. Taylor, used his art background to design Teresa’s labor of love. His artistic influence spills onto everything from the paintings on the walls to the Nissi’s logo, swirling metallic shards that represent an abstract coffee mug. A plasma screen above the double doors leading into the concert room displays performances to the folks in the bistro’s front room.
The community’s fingerprints are all over this place, too: Taylor handpicked the material for each seat, and a neighbor upholstered the chairs. Five area high school students are working the sound board. Executive chef Jason DeBolt is helping to train the next generation of professional cooks, while several interns are learning the ins and outs of how to run a business. Even the plumbers and electricians who helped bring Nissi’s to life have a special community link, Taylor says.
“I relate to those people. They made it happen for me,” she says. “I want them to come back, because a piece of them is in this place, and I want them to be proud of it.”
Nissi’s is an amazing accomplishment, considering it almost never happened, Taylor says. For six years, she and her husband owned the land. They were just about to sell it in 2003, until a loan made possible by a famous Lafayette neighbor got the ball rolling.
In a sense, it was former Lafayette farmer and current U.S. Congressman Bob Beauprez who set the wheels in motion. Decades ago, when a financial downturn threatened the Beauprez family ranch — within view of Nissi’s — a small local bank stepped in and offered the family a loan when others wouldn’t, Taylor says.
The gesture inspired Beauprez to start Heritage Bank, the very place to which the Taylors were able to turn when they needed a loan to make Nissi’s a reality.
According to Taylor, Beauprez was personally receptive to her plight: “He said, ‘When it comes time, I’ll grease the chute for ya,’” Teresa recalls. “If it wasn’t for him and his bank, none of this would be here.
“Like Bob Beauprez was trying to support the local up-and-coming people, I’m trying to support the local up-and-coming artists.”
Nissi’s is the Hebrew word for banner. Nissi’s Live Music & Bistro owners Teresa and T. Taylor decided they wanted to promote the new business by hanging several banners on lightpoles surrounding the venue. “We just felt that it was the right name,” Teresa Taylor says.
If you go
What: Nissi’s Live Music & Bistro
Where: 2675 North Park Drive, Lafayette
Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday
Tickets: $3 to $25
• Happy Hour is from 4:30 to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.
• Concerts generally run from 7 to 10 p.m.
• The front-room bistro is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and is available for special events booking.
• Art showcases are 6 to 9 p.m. two Wednesdays per month.
• The 10Thirty Club, a showcase of high school and college bands, is 10:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday.
• Former Denver Post reporter G. Brown will host monthly showcases featuring performances and talks with musicians beginning at 8 p.m. Sept. 24.
• Twenty percent of Nissi’s proceeds will be placed into a scholarship fund to benefit junior and senior high schools students within Boulder Valley School District who are interested in pursing music. Bridgetown also will award art scholarships to high school juniors interested in pursuing art careers.
• Nissi’s will honor an outstanding student in the community each monthly “G. Brown & Friends” session.
More info: 303-665-2757; www.nissis.com
Valerie Singleton can be reached at 303-684-5319 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.