Monday, February 20, 2012

Escape from Douchery, Part 12: The Beat Coffeehouse

The revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas is going to take some time.

Zappos CEO Tony Hseih's plan to transform the neighborhood from a vacant-lot filled post-apocalyptic wasteland into a vital arts-district populated by innovative tech-companies, local businesses serving the community, cool bars, music venues, and galleries is an ambitious endeavor that will not come to fruition for years, if at all. But the seeds of Hseih's plan are already beginning to take root, and one of the most visible seeds is the uber-hip Beat Coffeehouse.

The Beat is the coolest coffee place in Las Vegas, and not just because most coffee-shops in the city are located in corners of Casino food courts and have names that begin with an "S" and end with a "Bucks." Located in the Emergency Arts building, a collective that also includes galleries, a yoga studio, non-profit groups, and indie production companies, The Beat has become the center of culture in Downtown Vegas, a gathering place of the city's intelligentsia (yes, that is a demographic that exists in Vegas). On any given afternoon, you'll find Zappos employees, musicians, artists, and local politicians gathered around tables with their laptops open and a hot brews in their hands.

The coffee is uniformly excellent, as Colorado River Roasted Drip is always served fresh and you can order your own perfectly prepared French Press to take to your table. The food is equally tasty... I gobbled up their signature Slap and Tickle Sandwich, your classic Peanut Butter and Jelly number spruced up with Bacon and Jalapenos.

Upping its indie cred, The Beat features the only Zine Library in Las Vegas. While Zines seem a little out of date considering the fact that the blogosphere exists,  there is some interesting (and hippie-style progressive) reading material in there. Even cooler is the fact that the coffee shop features a killer vinyl collection, which you can pick and choose from to create the soundtrack while you hangout (I was in a very Rolling Stones-heavy mood the last time I visited). Local artwork hangs in the back of the shop (some of it better than the rest).

After 7:00 PM, The Beat becomes a 21 and over venue as great beers and wines begin to flow. On many nights, The Beat hosts some of the best local bands in Vegas. Monday nights they have an Spoken Word Poetry open mic night, which can be as insufferable as you'd imagine, but at 9:00 PM they bring DJs in for one of the most chilled out dance parties in town.

Like a plant growing out of the cracks in the pavement of a bombed out city (how's that for dramatic?), The Beat Coffeehouse is one of the most positive signs that Tony Hseih's vision for a revitalized Downtown Las Vegas can and will come true.

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