When Siobhan Murphy arrived on Wednesday morning for her shift at the One World Cafe, she found the Agricola Street hotspot closed, windows covered over, people removing kitchen equipment and other furnishings through the side door.
Murphy has worked at One World for the last two-and-a-half years, and was deep in negotiations to buy the place (the cafe, not the building) from owner Ken Pilkey, so was surprised by the sudden closure. And she wasn't alone. "None of the staff knew," she says. "I had to call them."
Wednesday afternoon, several regulars sat outside, sharing cookies and drinking hot coffee donated by Java Blend. Murphy talked with them, trying to make sense of the situation and musing about opening another cafe—new name, same place—sometime soon. "The space comes up for rent October 1," she says. "I'm thinking about taking it over."
Even that quick turnaround wouldn't be soon enough for the North By North End festival, running September 13 to 16. One World was slated to be a primary venue—Gus' Pub and the North Street Church are the others, with the BBQ Baseball Party starting Sunday at noon in Needham Park—and yesterday's events will effect a dozen bands including both acts-from-away (DDMMYYY, Quebexico, Cry Rumble) and locals (Dog Day, Their Majesties).
"I can't even think how many people I have to call about that," says Murphy, who's also One World's music booker. "I'm just hoping this won't be the last of my involvement in the all ages scene."
Although One World went up for sale in the summer, things came to a head this week when it looked like Murphy and business partner Josh Herbin reached a deal with Ken Pilkey. "We tried to sell to Siobhan and Josh for $4,000. Clear. No HST," says Dennis Pilkey, Ken's dad. "They would have had everything inside, and the name." Dennis has been involved with the cafe for the past year, helping his son, who's been sick, and saw the debts mounting. To get the business into Murphy and Herbin's hands without the debt, Dennis says Ken officially declared bankruptcy on Monday. But then bankruptcy trustees were involved, the dealings got more complicated, and the deal collapsed. It was the last straw.
"I'm on my fourth or fifth drop-dead deadline with this," says Dennis. One World captured his "heart and soul," not to mention $40,000 of his personal savings. However, true to the spirit that thrived in One World, Dennis stresses that all the cafe's fixtures are going to organizations like St. Paul's church and Habitat for Humanity. Talking outside the cafe, he is more resigned than relieved about finally pulling the plug on the business. "The thing that hurts me the most is it's a true community centre."
In other news
Earthdance 2007 is set to take place in 36 countries and hundreds of venues on September 15, and locally promoter Phil Cousins has booked a humdinger of a show to celebrate this fantastic event. Five DJs and musical acts, including local funk masters Dr. dFunkt, will be hitting the stage at the North Street Church, all dedicating their creative talents to unite people worldwide in peace and harmony. Tickets for the event are $10 and are available at the door, which opens at 7:30PM. All proceeds will be donated to Medecins Sans Frontiers.
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