Black Forge Coffee House is keeping people awake and it has nothing to do with caffeine.
The business, located on Arlington Avenue in the city’s Allentown neighborhood, regularly hosts musical acts that like to keep the volume cranked to 11. Residents in the two apartments above the venue moved out due to the noise and the landlord is having a hard time finding new tenants.
Shop owners Ashley Corts and Nick Miller, who’ve rented the 1,600-square-foot space for nearly three years, are all ears when it comes to the concerns, which is why they’re looking to open a second location that can better accommodate loud and intense tunes.
“We are going to continue to host shows like monthly jam sessions with Phat Man Dee, acoustic stuff and smaller bands, and keep the noise down,” says Corts, a former Allentown resident who opened Black Forge as a way to help the neighborhood. “Now we need to start really making sure that we’re supportive of each other.”
On June 15, the business partners launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to purchase a 6,000-square-foot former bank building on Chartiers Avenue in McKees Rocks. At that location, they can host louder music. The goal is to raise $30,000 in 30 days.
As of press time, 142 backers have contributed $11,611 to the cause, with 28 days remaining in the campaign. Depending on how much they give, sponsors can earn rewards including free coffee, concert tickets and Black Forge merchandise.
The money will help Corts and Miller make some much-needed repairs and transform the building into a black metal music venue with a kitchen, coffee roasting area and espresso bar — amenities they don’t have at their current space.
Other advantages of the McKees Rocks location include basement storage, upstairs office space and an on-site parking lot. Right now, Black Forge customers have to find street parking.
Corts says the outdoor area also will allow them to host festivals and other community-oriented happenings. Being a good neighbor is important to Corts, who has already reached out to the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation.
The Allentown space currently boasts between 15 and 25 events each week — ranging from concerts and podcast recordings to vegan brunches and drag shows. Performers can rent the stage for $75 on weekdays and $100 on weekends. The low cost, Corts explains, helps artists get their voices heard without breaking the bank.
If the Kickstarter campaign is a success, Corts and Miller hope to open the new Black Forge this October with four new baristas, a part-time coffee roaster and a kitchen staff.
“We’ve seen what’s been happening in the Stowe-Rocks area,” she says. “Every neighborhood that has a residential and a business district deserves a coffee shop. It’s a place to meet that’s fun and comfortable. It’s going to be a great place for people to collaborate and support each other.”