Local classical music fans will have to get used to a new Tuesday night ritual. BuzzBrews on Lemmon Avenue shuttered last week, forcing its popular Classical Open Mic event to find a new home.
Luckily, it didn’t have to look far. Open Classical co-founder Mark Landson says that, effective immediately, the open mic will transition to the Lakewood location of the 24-hour diner chain.
The Classical Open Mic got its start at the Lemmon BuzzBrews more than eight years ago. The event was the brainchild of Kristen Center, a doctoral piano student at SMU.
Landson, a violinist, was among the early attendees. He became enraptured with the open mic, which welcomes everyone from 5-year-old cellists to seasoned pianists onstage to polish their repertoires.
He quickly made a like-minded friend in pianist Thiago Nascimento, and when Center decided to leave the open mic behind for new opportunities, Landson and Nascimento jointly took it on. They envisioned it as the centerpiece of a bigger nonprofit with a mission to connect classical musicians and make their music more accessible to the public.
Today, Open Classical hosts all kinds of events with a “dressed down, not dumbed down” ethos. In addition to the open mic, it offers traditional concerts, and wackier events like a Thanksgiving-themed comic opera.
While the closure of Lemmon BuzzBrews may be sad for people in the Oak Lawn area looking for an omelet at 3 a.m., Landson says the change it’s bringing about is positive for the open mic. “Most of our natural audience is in East Dallas anyway,” he says. “This will be a great catalyst to market more strongly in East Dallas, Lakewood and the White Rock area.”
Unlike the Lemmon location, the new spot also has a full bar. And because it opened more recently, in 2015, it has other “updated air conditioning and amenities” that will improve the experience for patrons.
The response to the latest news of the open mic’s move has been positive and occasionally nostalgic for those who’ve witnessed Open Classical’s journey. “End of an era!” Regina Debilio says on Facebook.
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While the move to Lakewood promises to be pretty seamless — the open mic will keep its day and time of 8 p.m. Tuesdays — there’s at least one important thing that it won’t be able to take with it: the loyal staff.
CultureMap reports that the Lemmon employees will be reassigned to other BuzzBrews locations, but Landson says none of the familiar crew will be going to Lakewood. “The event is a unique one to work for servers because people are moving all over the place, visiting with different people,” he says.
According to him, some of the Lemmon servers became so attached to the event and the regulars it brought every week that they kept working it even after they gave up all their other shifts at BuzzBrews. “They had other jobs and just really liked the event,” he says. “Now they can just be patrons.”
Classical Open Mic takes place at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays at BuzzBrews Lakewood, 5815 Live Oak St., No. 102