Local coffee shops good day and night
SVSU students feast on music, snacks at hangouts
September 17, 2007 —
Both java junkies and audiophiles have a few excellent options in their search for the perfect local hangout. Saginaw is dotted with numerous locations that offer both coffee and live music, yet two local stomping grounds seem to distinguish themselves from the rest. The Red Eye and Crumbs Cookie Cafe offer up a wide variety of caffeinated beverages and live musicians for the music savvy college student.
Crumbs Cookie Cafe opened in 2003 and has been feeding the cookie hungry masses since. The atmosphere has been described by returning customers as extremely warm and welcoming. When first entering Crumbs, the customer is greeted by several friendly, charismatic baristas standing behind a large front counter and display case. Inside the display case is what can only be described as dessert heaven. Cookies, scones and other baked confections line the display, while an overhead coffee menu contains cleverly named coffee concoctions like "Jamaican Me Crazy." The variety of different coffee drinks is impressive, and unlike Starbucks, the drinks are reasonably priced and easily affordable for the average broke college student. For less than $3 I was able to buy a large tea and a cookie that is best described as enormous.
The interior of Crumbs has been decorated to resemble a cabin in the mountains. In one portion of the cafe the walls have been painted to resemble logs, with a large illustration of a window looking out onto a tree-lined lake. This is where the live bands play. Crumbs has been hosting live musicians for the past several years, with a hiatus lasting a short period of time. The music has returned and the artists that play there are usually indie acts. Overall, it's a mellow setting. The musician sits in the corner by the faux window and performs while people sit by the enormous wooden tables drinking coffee. The ambience in Crumbs is great, but any real interest in the musicians seems to be small. With the exception of I Am the Branch, a musician and barista who actually works at Crumbs, most musicians received little attention from the customers.
The Red Eye is the anti-Crumbs. It's been open for much longer and seems to attract an entirely different crowd. The Red Eye typically draws artistic types, and the people who go there do so almost every day. The coffee is good and the service is casual. All one has to do to get a good cup of coffee is walk up to the counter, slap a dollar on the table, grab any of the cups lined up on top of the coffee machine and fill up at the table with the coffee dispensers. Unless you want a fancier drink, at which point one of the baristas will assist you.
The environment in the Red Eye is entirely different from that of Crumbs. While Crumbs is bright and open, the Red Eye has been painted dark, with work done by local artists hanging on the wall. Surprisingly, smoking is still allowed in the Red Eye, and customers do so. That being said, anyone who is irritated by the smell of cigarettes should probably not include the Red Eye in their list of locales to explore. Yet anyone who is more interested in music than cookies would feel more at home in the Red Eye, and unlike Crumbs, the focus seems to be on local art. Besides the actual art hanging on the walls, a bulletin board in the back is covered with posters advertising local music and theatre.
The actual concerts are better-attended, too. During an acoustic set the Red Eye is packed, and unlike the concerts at Crumbs, the audience looks interested. Coffee drinkers sing along and are usually friends of the musicians. Performers like Nathan Bade and Ben Nolan frequent the Red Eye, bringing along with them fellow college students interested in the local scene. The atmosphere is open and inviting, despite the dark walls, and the music is always great.
I will always prefer the Red Eye to Crumbs on the basis that I enjoy good live music over cookies and coffee, but both cafes are excellent options for a college student looking for a good way to occupy their time. I will continue to go to both places, enjoying the times I have there and bringing along friends for the coffee and the music.
Crumbs Cookie Cafe is located at 5200 Tittabawassee Rd. and can be reached at (989) 498-4010.
The Red Eye is located at 205 N. Hamilton St. Reach it at (989) 793-1411.