LOCK HAVEN - Avenue 209 Coffee House, 209 Bellefonte Ave., is one of the few places in the college town that music lovers can check out local talent and also avoid the bar scene.
"We wanted to reach the college crowd," Jared Conti, manager of the coffee house said. "It's a nice, safe atmosphere. There's nothing like this in Lock Haven that's not a bar."
The coffee house opened in February 2009 - making this year its fourth - and Conti has been there since the beginning.
The logo of Avenue 209 Coffee House, 209 Bellefonte Ave., Lock Haven, is shown.
"I helped with business plans and architectural designs as well as what we envisioned the coffee house to cater to," he said.
Not only does Avenue 209 provide a relaxing atmosphere, the business hosts live music as well.
"We always have music playing, so it seemed like a good match to incorporate live music," Conti said. "We've got a lot of different bands lined up for the New Year, lots of groups coming through. We have the Tree House, a band from Williamsport, a group called the Sewing Circle, Quiet Rise."
Conti is one of the musicians that plays at Avenue 209 as a part of the band The Echo and Sway, which also features Anthony LaLota. The duo has been playing for almost four years. Conti said that the group started out with LaLota playing guitar and Conti on background vocals.
"As Anthony was tuning, he realized that some of the poems sounded pretty nifty with music playing in the background," Conti said. "We picked a few and ran with them."
Although he doesn't play, Conti sings lead vocals and does a lot of "whistling solos."
He describes their music as "the beat poetry of Tom Waits with the heart and soul of Bruce Springsteen," and the two do a wide range of cover songs, from Tom Petty to Ryan Adams. Conti also is a self-published writer.
The first EP for The Echo and Sway is called "It Can Get Better" and Conti added that it showcases some of their originals as well as the poetry set to music.
"Our live show is a bit of a nerd-fest and you can't go to one without some 'Star Wars' talk or some really goofy dancing," Conti said.
Most of the acts that perform at Avenue 209 are indie folk artists and singer and songwriters. The coffee shop wanted an atmosphere that was inviting, and has local artists' work hanging from its walls.
"We've got a rotating artist about once a month. My buddy, Tommy Greico, has been up since sometime in October. He's neat because he started and finished three pieces in house as his work was up. It was really neat to see a piece in process," Conti said.
Avenue 209 has had photography, painting and quilting crafts on display.
"We'll do just about anything but nakedness," Conti said. "The artists are free to sell stuff off the walls and we don't take a cut of any of that."
The coffee shop also occasionally has comedy nights and poetry slams.
Although there is no alcohol, the menu for Avenue 209 boasts some delicious drinks, including its best seller, "The Liquid Brownie," which is made of expresso, half-and-half and caramel. They also have bagel sandwiches, egg sandwiches, desserts and soup. Employing five workers, the coffee shop roasts its own beans as well.
Conti said the shop tries to keep its stock local, including the music and artists they bring in.
"Lately, if I'm looking for a band, it's someone local who is from Williamsport," he said. "We are also on a couple of websites that promote us as a site to play music, and a lot of booking agents see that."
Avenue 209 Coffee House is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. Visit Avenue 209 on Facebook or at avenue209coffee.com.