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  • Writer's pictureThe Eagle

Whole Bean to Restart Open Mic Nights

The front counter of The Whole Bean. (Photo Used Under the Fair Use Provision of the US Copyright Code)

By Hayley Rea--Eagle Assistant Editor

Prior to the pandemic, one of the more well-known staples for students on campus, such as Evan Patterson and Haylee Smith, was The Whole Bean Coffeehouse.

The Whole Bean, owned and operated by Kylee Robinson, has served as a popular hangout space for students, drawing them in with events like Open Mic Nights.

“Our Open Mic Nights, pre-pandemic, were amazing. Kids from the high school gathered together to show their talent, real or perceived, in a safe and fun environment, whilst onlookers encouraged and praised each other. It was most often a full house, and those that gathered were fun and kind,” Robinson explained.

The exact date of restitution for Open Mic Nights is still to be determined, but Robinson is working towards making her business Covid-safe for students.

Owner Kylee Robinson poses with a cup of coffee in her Christmas attire from December 2020. (Courtesy Photo)

“We continue to do our best to follow Covid guidelines, while also allowing people to make decisions based on what is best for them,” Robinson commented. “We wipe down, we bring in extra staff, and we do our best to keep our customers safe while also allowing them to gather with those with whom they are comfortable. We encourage masks, social distancing, extra hand washing and precautions, but leave the other details up to our customers.”

In the meantime, students are looking forward to attending Open Mic Nights again and reconnecting with people like they did before the pandemic.

“I really like getting together with friends and getting good coffee while seeing the talent Franklin County has,” senior Haylee Smith said about her personal excitement.

One of the appeals of Open Mic Night is not only being able to spend time with others in the community, but also enjoy performances from local entertainers.

“My favorite part, in general, is the opportunity to perform and hear music in our town. Music has always been a love of mine, and this offers a unique opportunity to see it firsthand,” senior Michael Shanahan said.

For spectators, different performances provide different appeals.

“My favorite performances are the people who are shy and quiet who come out of their shell to show their talent to their peers,” Smith commented.

Although some students on campus are more interested in watching performances, others join in on the fun themselves and show off their skills.

Senior Evan Patterson prepares to play guitar at the last Open Mic Night pre-Covid. (Courtesy Photo)

“I like both performing and watching people perform. My favorite part about Open Mic Nights is being able to play guitar for people and have someone sing for me,” senior Evan Patterson explained. “My favorite performances are people playing guitar because it’s nice to see other people playing what I play.”

Lots of different talents and skills have been showcased at these events. At previous Open Mic Nights, it was incredibly common to come across choir students preparing to go onstage to perform.

“I’m a choir student and doing songs I love is always a blast. I would probably do songs with my friends, maybe Hamilton or some Ben Platt or just have fun stuff,” Shanahan said.

Despite the excitement about Open Mic Nights being reinstated, there are still a lot of precautions to take into consideration due to Covid. Attendance is expected to be lower and many restrictions will be put in place to protect students.

“With many gathered in close proximity, the current guidelines make Open Mic Nights more difficult to implement, but we are more than willing to work with our local kids and teachers to come up with a plan to get Open Mic Nights back up and running as soon as possible, even if they look a little different for now,” Robinson explained. “I don’t know what they will look like, but you can be sure that we will work with whomever we need to and do whatever we need to to keep everyone safe. Turnout will likely be less, at least for a while."

Even with the restrictions, many students look forward to experiencing the feeling of a tight-knit community as they come together again.

“The atmosphere on an Open Mic Night is really warm and welcoming. Everyone wants to see everyone have fun,” Patterson commented.

Overall, the idea of having everyone back together again for these events is enough to keep the community going until they start up again.

“My favorite part about Open Mic Night is having a shop full of kiddos that feel free to be themselves, while also supporting their friends and classmates. I have always been so impressed by the camaraderie and support that I have been privileged to witness from these amazing kids,” Robinson concluded.

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