The Stories Behind Open Mike's, the Most Magical Place on the East Coast

Few things are as tantalizing as the earthy aroma of coffee.  Or a melty sandwich on crisp, golden-hued bread.  Or the heartbeat of a bass drum aligned with a swaying brass melody.

I speak of Open Mike's- as the name might suggest, it's an open mic club, but it's so much more than that.  Owner Mike Della Cioppa graciously made time to give me the inside details on what makes Open Mike's so special.

The backstory
15 years ago, Mike Della Cioppa owned Florida Discount Music, where he sold any supplies a musician might need.  But the music retail industry is tough, says Mike.  He longed for something different.
"Different" started with a small stage on the side of the store and a license to sell beer and wine.  Soon after, they started selling coffee that they got from a friend.  Then Lisa Della Cioppa, Mike's wife, took an interest in roasting coffee.  She got so good at it, Mike recalls, that she took the reins on all of Open Mike's handcrafted coffee.
Over the last five years, the little venue on US-1 has transitioned from retail to restaurant, shop to show, marking the metamorphosis with the construction of a bigger stage.

Usually, all these seats are taken by seven, so get there early. ;)

On the table
Mike calls the Open Mike's experience "multisensory."  People are drawn to the music, but they also come to be with each other.  The menu ties those two aspects together.
Inspiration for the food comes from Mike's own household.  The shareable boards on the menu are just like the ones he and Lisa would share for a movie night.  It's comfort food, but not in the greasy-sloppy-fried manner.  "If you came to my house, for a party, I wouldn't feed you slop," Mike says earnestly.  Dishes are well-thought out and made from scratch with the freshest ingredients.  This is food that will make you feel good.
Blurry photobombed photo of the veggie bowl, which was amazingly delicious.
However, Mike's priority does not lie in pleasing everyone.  "We make what we like and hopefully other people will like it," he declares.  The food and drinks- signature sandwiches, flatbreads, salads, rice bowls, lattes, loose-leaf teas, and more- reflect the individuality of Open Mike's, a style Mike hopes will resonate with those who visit.
Open Mike's coffee, expertly roasted in-house by Lisa, is always organic, fresh, and procured from
around the world- Bali, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Colombia, to name a few- through fair trade.  If you like coffee, Open Mike's is where to get it.  I liked their Peanut Butter Palmer- a latte infused with chocolate and peanut butter- and I don't even like coffee.
Yes, it's called a lounge, but that doesn't mean it's just for late night eats.  You can get Open Mike's sandwiches, wraps, salads, bowls, and drinks for lunch as early as eleven in the morning.  And you can order their coffee from their website regardless of where you live in the United States!

The hummus :)
I love to share their hummus with whomever I'm with, and you can't go wrong with their Della Cha Cha Cha salad (gorgonzola, candied pecans, avocado, cranberries, and balsamic glaze over fresh greens) or their Veggie Bowl.  My dad loves their selection of craft beer, my mom loves their lattes, and I love their smoothies(I'm predictable like that) and mint tea.

On the stage
No two nights are the same at Open Mike's.
On Tuesday and Saturday nights, Mike books entertainment.  That means anything from acoustic to punk to blues to a puppet show (If you haven't seen Oranga Tanga in action, educate yo'self).  Having lived in Brevard for over thirty years, Mike knows the local music population inside and out.  "I'm in love with Brevard County," he reflects, saying there's a lot of talent to be found there.  He's friends with almost everyone that plays a show at the club, and if he doesn't know them, he's most likely friends with someone who does.
The puppet show.  Like I said, Oranga Tanga.
On Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, anyone is welcome to join in.  Mondays are for acoustic music- come in, sign up, play a few songs, then let the next person do the same.  It's that easy.  Thursdays are blues jam and Fridays are jazz jam, with the same system as Monday except you're playing along with the house band.
"We are very inclusive," Mike tells me.  "People by nature are just weird and quirky and cool and different and just, you know, fun."  I can vouch- I've seen kids my age share the stage with gentlemen in "Vietnam Veteran" baseball caps.  Age, race, gender, and opinions float away, replaced with the feelings of goodwill that everyone seems to have once they enter Open Mike's.  Mike describes it as good energy weeding out weird energy.  Though he is a massive Disney aficionado, he finds Open Mike's to be more magical than Magic Kingdom any day.

Mike can't pick a favorite night ('If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life' comes to mind), but he does admit he's very passionate about original music, so he loves when bands and musicians bring their own music into the mix.  He also advises taking a chance- people may not think they like a certain type of music, but they end up loving it.
Although Mike rarely participates in the jams- it's his duty to facilitate- he plays piano, drums, and guitar, and is the bass player in an original psychedelic rock band called Konglom.

Locally baked brownie!
I first ventured to Open Mike's two years ago, which seems like a really really long time ago when you're in high school.  It was a blues jam night.  I sat on a sofa with my parents watching these people totally into the music, soloing and then blending with each other, and my dad asked me if I wanted to take guitar lessons (obviously I said yes).
A huge thank you to Mike and the gang at Open Mike's for helping me with this.
Be sure to head over to Open Mike's for your next lunch or ~night on the town~.  I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do. :)

Coming Up
Saturday, August 18th: That's tonight! Savants of Soul, a big touring soul band originally from Gainesville.
Saturday, August 25th: Four great local rock bands with their original music: The Spring, Zeddemore, The Contenders, and Capsule Corp.
Tuesday, September 11th:  Gospel, soul, and funk with SWAAG, a group that Mike describes as "fantastic."  If you can't make it to this one, there's still hope- they play at Open Mike's every second Tuesday of the month.

Monday- acoustic open mic.  Monday may be changing to funk jam soon.  Mike likes to keep things moving, keep it interesting.
Tuesday- entertainment varies, so keep tabs on their Facebook to see what's coming.
Wednesday- standup comedy showcase
Thursday- blues jam
Friday- jazz jam
Saturday- entertainment varies, so keep tabs on their Facebook to see what's coming.

Open Mike's is open 11 am to 10(ish) pm Monday through Saturday.  Anytime other than that, it's just Mike's.  Hahaha I'm so funny.
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World peace and love,
Strawberry banana smoothie!

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