Sunday, November 02, 2008

cafe culture

The first of 3 articles about Foam in local magazines has hit the stands.

Café Culture

Foam promises to resurrect something St. Louis hasn't really had since Gaslight Square: an ultrahip coffeehouse music venue

Café Culture
Photograph by Rachel Brandt

Let's get one thing straight about Foam before we begin, shall we? According to owner Mike Glodeck, there are two kinds of coffee joints: coffee shops and coffeehouses, and Foam is definitely the latter.

"There are a lot of coffee shops in St. Louis and very few coffeehouses," says Glodeck. "Everybody wants to be in a place where people come and hang out all day long—to provide an inviting atmosphere. I'm very much a host. When I throw parties, I'm meticulous about the lighting, the music." Indeed, Glodeck has been making mix CDs to play in the coffeehouse for more than a year, and the space isn't even wired for a stereo system yet.

You might ask: How could anyone hang out at a coffeehouse all day long? Here's the thing: The "foam" here refers not only to the poof of dairy atop your latte, but also to the froth that crowns a good pour of beer. The basement of Foam will house a microbrewery run by a mysterious gentleman from O'Fallon, Ill., who has been putting on an Oktoberfest for many years now, featuring all his own concoctions. "We'll be doing a lot of unique and seasonal beers," says Glodeck, "which will be available only on tap at Foam."

And Glodeck intends for Foam to function as a music venue, too. "There are some pretty cool bands in St. Louis right now," he says. "I'd love to foster and see more of that and give them an opportunity. If somebody wants to come in and play on a Tuesday and do a solo deal and come back with a full band on Saturday, I'd let them work out their material." He's quick to dissipate the stereotype of the angsty, guitar-strumming coffeehouse staple (will any of us ever forget the Phoebe Buffay classic "Smelly Cat"?), emphasizing that bands of all stripes will be welcome at Foam. Glodeck is, as it turns out, quite the music fan. A native of the Detroit area (home of Motown Records, the MC5 and the garage rock scene that birthed the White Stripes, among others), Glodeck says it's "painful" for him to read about bands he loves being on tour and watching them completely bypass St. Louis.

And Glodeck's clearly passionate about his adopted hometown and the neighborhood in which he's chosen to open his endeavor. People from Detroit are famously loyal to that capital of the Rust Belt, but Glodeck has enough room in his heart for pride in both towns. When his wife, a native St. Louisan, wanted to move home in 2001, he acquiesced without knowing much about the city. When they came down for a visit, he fell in love with it. He sees many similarities between the two towns, from the style of the street signs to the way both cities are "reinventing themselves," after years of decline. "One thing I love about St. Louis: Property values are reasonable enough that someone like me can come in and do a project like this," he says.

Glodeck envisions Foam as a "third place," meaning a place in addition to home and work that people frequent as the center of their social community.

"I don't think anyone in St. Louis is doing what I'm doing with Foam," he continues. "It's going to be unique." No doubt, no matter what your foamy beverage preference is, there will be something worthwhile to bring you down to Foam, whether it's a band, a home-brewed beer or just a cup of joe to drink while you work on that novel. And undoubtedly the soundtrack, over a year in the making, will rock your socks off.

Foam is located at 3359 S. Jefferson, in the Benton Park neighborhood; find it at