Albany ALBANY — From staying open Friday nights during the Downtown Merchants Association's First Friday events, Our Daily Bread restaurant at 106 N. Washington St. has become the home of a growing musical/dining scene.
The restaurant, whose normal business hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, hosts various local musical and spoken-word artists each Friday night, drawing a growing crowd of diners and local music enthusiasts looking for a happening place to kick off their weekend.
"The most typical reaction we're getting is 'I never expected to see anything like this in Albany,'" said Jason Warren, who with his wife Mendy opened Our Daily Bread on Feb. 10. "Everyone seems to really enjoy coming in and listening to the local artists. We keep it family-oriented, we don't pay anyone to play and people are still beating down our door to get a chance to play."
When the Warrens decided to keep Our Daily Bread open during First Friday events, which started in the spring, they were approached by representatives of the local spoken-word community hoping to set aside a night for them.
"We decided to start staying open the first and second Fridays," Warren said.
When the crowd, drawn by the artists, chef Warren's Friday specials — "Whatever strikes me on a given night" — and Mendy Warren's famous home-made cakes and desserts, kept growing, the Warrens decided to invite local artists to play at an open mic gathering on the third Friday of each month.
Local jazz artists asked if they could nail down the fourth Friday, and the Warrens' little restaurant was suddenly an entertainment option on Southwest Georgia Friday nights.
"We've got our Music Trends third Friday booked for the next two months," Warren said. "We check out each band to make sure they fit in with what we're trying to do, but we do try to keep it something for local artists."
Young musicians who study at the downtown LeVee studio, a Darton college jazz ensemble, 14-year-old Hannah Murphy and Adrian Blu from Atlanta, who plays with Albany-based musicians, are among the artists who perform regularly at Our Daily Bread. Blu is scheduled to perform at the restaurant Friday night.
"We're getting excellent feedback from our Friday nights," Warren said. "We haven't been open a year yet, so we don't have numbers (of patrons) to compare to, but we're still happy here. We love downtown, and our business plan involves a lot of praying.
"We're seeing forward motion downtown. Our goal is to keep doing what we're doing and make it to the spring. Then we focus on the next thing."