Open mike night at Ocean City Coffee Co. livens up Friday nights downtown

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Annie Donahue joins Herb Birch, also known as Bubba Mac, and Dr. Bob, also known as Robert Kille, at the Ocean City Coffee Co. Annie Donahue joins Herb Birch, also known as Bubba Mac, and Dr. Bob, also known as Robert Kille, at the Ocean City Coffee Co.

OCEAN CITY – Bringing music and fun to the downtown to cheer up a struggling community, the Ocean City Coffee Co. is offering an open mike night on Friday evenings at its newer, downtown location.

The coffee beans at the Ocean City Coffee Co. are “roasted on the beach” at the flagship boardwalk shop. The downtown location at 917 Asbury Ave., which opened over the summer, was among the first downtown stores to reopen in November after Hurricane Sandy flooded the island.

So far, it’s been a cozy, standing-room only crowd in the middle of the winter.

“We started with live entertainment three weeks ago,” general manager Aubrey Corbett said. “We want to bring the community together. It’s evolving and we’re really open to different things. We’ve helped raise some money for the Ocean City Humane Society, for the Hispanic community and some other charities.

“There’s not much going on downtown right now on Friday nights, hopefully this will give people something fun to do, and attract some shoppers for the other businesses. It’s going very well and we’re definitely going to be expanding it.”

Last week, the Bubba Mac Blues Band appeared along with another band, Copper Monkeys, and a magician.

“We had a great turnout, every week the crowd gets larger,” she said. “When Bubba Mac was there, by 7:30 there were no more chairs and I was scurrying around looking for more, so people could sit down.

“There were a lot of familiar faces, but also some new ones,” she said. “It’s kind of neat to see some of our regular customers come in and sit down and relax, sometimes we just see them come in and out in the morning. It’s nice to see them enjoy their coffee and the music.”

The “community builder,” as she called it, is good for the store and good for the downtown.

“Sack O’ Subs had a nice crowd, it helped them to stay open later,” she said.

Entertainment includes musicians, magicians, stand-up comedy or whatever other talent someone might offer, she said.

Herb Birch, a.k.a. Bubba Mac, said he was “really glad” to have the opportunity and looks forward to returning on Feb. 22.

“It’s a really nice venue,” he said. “It’s nice to see that they are encouraging people to come and play some music. There are a lot of musicians in the area. It’s not about money, because there isn’t any. It’s about a nice place to sit and play some music.

“It’s a lot of fun; I hope they keep it up. They had a full house,” he said. 

The Ocean City Coffee Co. was created by Linwood and Laurie Smith at 928 Boardwalk seven years ago. Modeled after a similar shop out west, it was an instant success.

Joan Williamson and Calvin Corvaia bought the shop five years ago and continue to seek the finest coffees available from around the world.

“We roast the coffee at our boardwalk location,” Corbett said.

The coffee is roasted in small batches and shipped or served within 24 hours, so customers can enjoy the “freshest, most deeply flavorful cup of coffee possible.”

“We offer five to six different pots of freshly brewed coffees brewed every day,” Corbett said. “From no flavor to decaf and many varieties of flavored coffee and just about any type of espresso drink you can think of.”

The shop offers over 110 different types of fresh roasted gourmet coffee and 18 varieties of specialty teas. All must pass several “taste tests” before they are offered to customers, she said.

“We have 100 percent organic coffee, Vali Blue Moon,” she said. “Ethiopian coffee is popular.”

The Ocean City Coffee Co. had a great Christmas season, despite Sandy. The freshly brewed coffee beans are shipped around the world, she said, and a favorite of many of the second homeowners and visitors who frequent the shop during the busy summer months.

“On Cyber Monday, after Thanksgiving we had over 200 orders, we could hardly keep up with them,” she said.

Corbett said she hopes to see more downtown shops open as spring approaches.

“It was so sad after the storm,” she said. “We were lucky, the machinery was good, it was high and we had about three inches of water. We had it cleaned up in a few days and we were open again. It was an interesting experience; we’re hoping everyone is back to normal very soon.”

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