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Pegasus lights up its night-time marquee

By CECILIA GARZA
Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer
February 15, 2013 · 12:24 PM
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Pickers and players jam at the Pegasus. / Cecilia Garza / Bainbridge Island Review

For many on Bainbridge, Pegasus Coffee House is a daytime meeting ground for lunch dates, morning chatter and breakfast; a place to see old friends or to pass the time with a good book and a cup of coffee.

In the past few weeks, the cafe has brought in additions to their above-the-door marquee that owners Jocelyn and Jeff Waite are hoping will encourage another facet to their European-style coffee house: an evening hub.

“Pegasus is a neighborhood meeting place,” said Jocelyn Waite. “But the need for a neighborhood meeting place doesn’t end at six in the evening every day.”

The coffee house will now feature a four-day weekend of events.

Thursday evenings, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., local musician Ethan J. Perry hosts “Biscuits & Gravy: An old-fashioned pickin’ session.” The event is a jam session open to all musicians from all skill levels and ages. Those that participate can enjoy a complimentary plate of biscuits and gravy.

Friday nights, Pegasus After Dark will offer a lounge experience starting from 8 to 11 p.m. with a mix of house and lounge music.

Saturday evenings will bring a new open mic night, also hosted by Perry, called the “Green Muse” where audience members can read aloud poetry or short stories or perform music.

And lastly, Sundays will continue what has been a regular for the cafe with live music but now from 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Before the big changes, the cafe kept its doors open until 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night for live acoustic music. The feature opened the restaurant up to local and traveling musical talent.

But as winter set in, two things started to happen; it was getting harder and harder to find musicians to fill the time slot and at the same time, ideas to improve the nighttime scene were snowballing.

About a month ago, Perry was approached by Jeff Waite to host an open mic night at the cafe. But it was in their meeting that Perry mentioned another need that he felt Waite and Pegasus could provide for the community — a pickin’ parlor.

Other communities had places where musicians could perform for the fun of being around other musicians, but Bainbridge didn’t, Perry explained.

Perry has been performing regularly at the cafe since 2007.

In the years since he first got involved in the weekend music time slots, he often invited friends of his to join him in jamming rather than to perform as a solo artist. It was more fun for him, he noticed customers enjoyed watching it more and his fellow musician buddies always showed up for the chance to play in front of an audience.

Considering the amount of writers and musicians on the island, Waite and Perry knew it was something that could grow.

“They’re both kind of community services,” said Perry. “We’re cultivating a community basis for that kind of demographic on the island.”

For Saturdays, Waite dubbed the open mic night the “Green Muse” — after the ancient goddess of artistic rebellion — as a way to carry on both the mythic and absinthe aspects of the cafe and to encourage what a muse stands for; creativity and the imagination.

The Biscuits & Gravy jam session and the Green Muse share a family-friendly atmosphere. Both events are open to all ages, and there is an emphasis on it being a space that encourages amateurs as much as veterans.

Perry said it’s an exciting time for him as the host and planner of the events. It allows him to enjoy his musical livelihood right here on the island.

“It’s just all the good the island stands for,” Perry said, “locally sourced food and locally sourced art.”

As for Pegasus After Dark, the cook in the back who became the event planner in the front, Natalie Barry, had been thinking of putting together a nighttime scene for a couple weeks until she decided to bring it up with the kitchen manager.

As one of the cafe’s four cooks, she started working the weekend closing shift at the cafe just after New Year’s. The cafe would start to slow down, and, at the same time, her friends texted saying they were going into the city.

“People have this misconception that everyone is older, retired or have families,” Barry said. “But there’s an age group of 20- and 30-year-olds on the island.”

And on the weekends, those younger people leave the island for Capitol Hill. With Pegasus After Dark, Barry hopes to install a lounge setting and experience that brings the Hill to them and keeps money on the island by supporting a local business.

Even if Pegasus is just a pre-party for later plans in the city, she explained, she wants a place for her friends to go that feels like they are in the city.

“When I lived in California, I worked for companies that I had to put together events,” said Barry. “It’s something I find great pleasure in doing.”

The California transplant worked for production companies in the Los Angeles film scene and often put together parties for the company’s clients.

When the kitchen manager, Roger Stukey, gave her the go-ahead after a green light from owners Jeff and Jocelyn Waite, Barry got to work designing and posting fliers in town, putting together a well-thought-out music playlist, gathering audio visual equipment, creating a Facebook event and spreading the word to her friends.

“All the senses need to be involved to have a good time,” Barry said. “Lighting, visuals, music, food. Especially for that age range who are constantly surrounded by a whole range of multimedia.”

Around 8 p.m. the cafe takes on a different ambiance than its usual daytime hours. The lights turn off, candles are set on each table and lit, a projector is set up on the back wall playing clips from old movies, and music is turned up to a comfortable lounge volume. Customers can hear themselves speak but at the same time they mill about the room, dancing here and there on a cleared out space in the back of the cafe.

After the two-week trial run, the Waites approved Barry’s initiative with a few reminders: The cafe must shut-down by 11 p.m. when the city’s noise ordinance kicks in and everyone drinking must be ID’d.

The cafe’s Green Hour, from 3 p.m. to close, will also have its own addition of cheese fondue for two on the menu.

Overall, it is a place and chance to meet people and see people without having to leave the island.

“It’s exciting when you see people who work for us who are passionate enough to do something,” said Jocelyn Waite.

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