1970s

Two Way Street Coffee House was established in 1970 as a drop-in center for local teens. It quickly evolved into a beloved community hub where everyone felt welcome. Open on weeknights, it became a vibrant space for teens to hang out, play games, perform music, and read poetry. The coffee house soon started hosting weekly Friday night concerts. Now, after 53 years of continuous performances, we have grown into a cherished venue, treasured by both artists and audiences.

1980s

Throughout the 1980s, Two Way Street Coffee House emerged as a sought-after performance venue for touring artists. During this period, genres like punk, R&B, and folk were eager to network and create opportunities within the music industry. The venue consistently showcased a diverse array of local and international artists. In 1982, it began recording select concerts for broadcast on the local Downers Grove cable channel, further boosting its profile.

The community’s music scene flourished with the addition of local folk festivals and concert venues, leading to the formation of the Plank Road Folk Music Society. Through collaborative efforts, Two Way Street and Plank Road started hosting community events such as sing-arounds, volunteer Old-Time string bands, and Barn Dances, enriching the local cultural landscape.

1990s

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Partnerships with the Plank Road Folk Music Society and various local and regional venues and festivals continued to thrive. Two Way Street Coffee House produced a “folk stage” as part of the Village of Downers Grove’s annual festival, where “Two Way Street favorites” performed live music for the community throughout the weekend.

The community expanded further when local folk music enthusiasts joined a national movement that eventually became Folk Alliance International. This decade also saw the celebration of Two Way Street’s 20th and 25th anniversaries. During this time, the suggested donation increased from $1 to $2, and the venue faced growing competition from commercial coffee houses and bookstores vying for patrons.

2000s

In 2000, we celebrated our thirtieth anniversary. The following year, Two Way Street launched an open mic event called “Last Thursday” specifically for college and high school-aged community members. This monthly event provided the younger generation with a platform to showcase their talents. Many of these young artists went on to become professional musicians, including one of our favorites, Heather Styka, who is now an internationally touring folk artist.

2010s

April 2013 brought significant challenges as we experienced a spring flood in the venue. After 40 years, we couldn’t use the room until cleanup, repairs, and renovations were completed. The church immediately offered us an alternative space within the building, allowing us to operate in a temporary location for 18 weeks.

We turned this challenge into an opportunity to make improvements and updates to the venue. By the end of 2013, we reopened the newly renovated space. Two Way Street Coffee House resumed presenting weekly concerts and community events and began sponsoring a private showcase room at our Folk Alliance International regional conference. This allowed us to introduce our artist friends to presenters and radio DJs at the annual FARM gathering.

 

2020s

As we celebrated 50 years, a global pandemic struck, disrupting our in-person concert venue business model. Artists lost crucial performance income, and we had to quickly adapt to virtual performances. Through online concerts, we began presenting artists and reaching audiences internationally, breaking the record for the most donations received for a single concert in our 50-year history.

Eventually, we reopened for in-person concerts while continuing to offer online livestream broadcasts. After 50 years of continuous operation, our dedicated volunteers have presented thousands of weekly Friday night concerts and community events, with countless tickets sold and volunteer hours contributed.

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ADDRESS:

1047 Curtiss Street

Downers Grove, IL