by Sayaka Matsuoka
Ever since he started Menace Inc. Studios in January of last year, Jeff Beck has been all over town facilitating art projects like the Ultimate Painting series that began last November. And now he is working on a completely new project — an art gallery coffeehouse.
Urban Grinder Art & Coffeehouse will be located at 116 N. Elm St. next to Center City Park and will focus on Beck’s passion for street art, murals and low-brow works. The location, which has been vacant for the past six months, previously housed a jewelry store and spans approximately 2,200 square feet and includes a lofted area. His partners include Adrian Wilson, previously owner of the Maya art gallery and used bookstore on Tate Street and longtime friend Marcus Moore.
“I’ve always been interested in coffee,” said Beck. “And I think it’d be a great addition to the art gallery.”
The idea stems from the need for an art gallery to be something more than just a place for pictures. This way, customers will get a little bit of art and refreshment. But this won’t be just your ordinary stop and go coffee shop.
“Our focus is on the art,” said Beck. “It’ll be more like a coffee shop inside of an art gallery.”
Drawing inspiration from coffeehouses in New York, Beck hopes to create a vibrant hub for local artists to showcase their work.
The shop will house the art gallery on the lofted part of the building and will change exhibitions bimonthly. There will also be a blank wall for artists to come in and paint murals which will be changed out yearly and Beck’s already got someone in mind.
“Kendall Doub is a great street artist working in the area and he has signed on to do the first mural,” said Beck.
While the shop won’t have a kitchen, it will be selling vegan and gluten-free baked goods made by Wallflour Bakery in Greensboro and coffee from Krankies in Winston-Salem. He plans to sell cold brew as well.
In addition to the drinks and baked goodies, Beck will be selling designer vinyl toys and used records like the ones sold previously in Maya on Tate Street.
He hopes to open the weekend of July 4 but is currently waiting on a building permit from the city to make changes to the plumbing and electrical work of the site. In the meantime, he has ripped up the carpet to reveal a concrete floor to be stained for an industrial feel throughout the shop.
While he waits on approval from the city to proceed with renovations to the building, Beck plans to set up a booth at the City Market on June 18 to publicly announce his new project.
“I’m excited,” Beck said, “I think this will be different and I can’t wait for people to see the art.”