By Liz Allen
Friday + Saturday editor
Where: 111 Millsaps Ave
Prices: $0-$10 range
If you need a renewed spring in your step, if you need to have some faith in humanity restored, if you need fresh air (or fresh food), then you need Soul Wired Café. Located just a short walk from campus (I’ve clocked it at about five to 10 minutes) down Millsaps Avenue in the heart of the Midtown Arts District, Soul Wired is the perfect college hangout venue. It’s not your typical coffee shop, restaurant, nightclub or music/poetry venue—it’s all of the above. It is “a space that welcomes everybody,” owner Stacy “Soul” Winters says. “I’m doing the things that make me happy every day (here), which are art, culture and music. So why not spread it around and have fun with people?”
Everything about the space exudes community openness. It’s the type of place where you can go to meet all sorts of new people and faces, and yet feel like you belong. It’s the type of place that is open as long as somebody’s around. It’s the type of place where community expression literally covers the walls, as anyone who stops in can write their names, thoughts or quotes on the bricks in marker. It’s the type of place where every single object has a story. “The space feels like you’re at home,” Winters says. “That’s why everything you see here is recycled, came from somewhere else. Trash to treasure, I guess you could say. I’m nobody special, I just had an idea, and quit my job, and here I am.”
I first got to know the café because it regularly features local performers, from spoken word poets and DJs to tons of local bands. However, the space lends itself to any variety of activities. There’s room for dancing, chairs and couches for lounging, tables for chatting, and stages inside and out, all besides the bar in the front half where you can enjoy your food.
“There’s always something going on here” Winters says, listing off art shows, erotic poetry nights and performers ranging from indie to acoustic Justin-Timberlake-esque performers, to the Saturday night house band, RNS Quintet, a jazz/funk group. Some of the café’s regular events include hip-hop open-mic nights every other Sunday, erotic poetry once a month, and either open-mic poetry or music every Friday and Saturday. The space is also open to event rental if nothing is scheduled.
The café, as I learned, is true to its name and also serves food—quite delicious food at that. Winters, who has 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, hopes to shift the café’s food focus to breakfast and lunch, serving from around 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., then opening back up for basic nightlife. Her dishes are often vegan and vegetarian friendly, using simple ingredients, such as banana pancakes for breakfast. She also serves coffee, and hopes to soon include an espresso bar. The café also features classics, like their fish-and-fries plate, which I highly recommend.
Since opening three years ago, the café continues to evolve—Winters has added a new kitchen and expanded the space, among other things. Soul Wired is always on the move. However, Winters, as a one-woman-team small business owner, needs the support of the community, and she especially wants to connect with the Millsaps community, which hosted its 2012 senior party at the café. Winters mentioned the possibility of hosting weekly college nights as one way of building a stronger relationship with Millsaps. She is currently hosting an Indiegogo campaign, “Keeping the Soul in Midtown,” but another way to support her (and have a damn good time while you’re at it) is to go down and hang out. If you like food, music, drinks, poetry or community, take a walk across the street the next time you’re pondering what to do,.
For updates on events and happenings at Soul Wired Café, check out its Facebook page here.