Local restaurant opens for lunch on Saturdays. Owner not only wants to keep business up and thriving, but also wants to keep his staff on the payroll. At first it’s a hit and miss deal; more miss than hit, actually, with minimal customer participation.
One day, a young budding musician stops in. He’s a friend of the owner’s son. He sits at the piano and plays.
“I thought: Why don’t we do this every Saturday?,” says Berryhill & Co. owner John Berryhill. It’s not so much an out-of-the-box idea — in fact, Berryhill says, it’s old-school.
“It’s been known for years, if you can get the kids, you can get the parents. I was committed to getting the people in.”
So far, the Youth Piano Showcase Saturdays noon to 3, has been a roaring success. Young musicians — and their parents, friends and a room full of appreciative strangers — are keeping the restaurant and its staff hopping.
Plus, participating musicians get to keep all their tips and get a free meal on the house, to boot. It’s a win-win-win situation all around.
“We’re able to do something awesome for the community and these kids and it makes it a profitable venture for them, for us, the parents and the servers,” Berryhill says. “And it has that feel-good thing about it.”
It gives the kids “a real gig performing experience,” Ken Harris says. “It makes them think, ‘wow, I’m a real pro at this.” Harris, who is Berryhill’s main piano player, is also the resident music director — and scheduler. Anyone 18 or younger interested in performing in the showcase should contact him: at 440-4590 or firstname.lastname@example.org. And, if you want to check out the lineup, go to Berryhill’s Web site: http://www.berryhillandco.com/news
What do the kids and parents think? Twelve-year old Christian Klena, whose favorite pianist is Duke Ellington, enjoyed the experience, especially the tips and the free lunch. “’Angry Pasta’ — very delectable,” Klena said, adding that it was a different experience to perform for a room full of eating — and talking — people. “It made me wonder if they were talking about me.” Would he do it again? “Yes, definitely!”
Tim Klena, Christian’s dad, thinks the showcase not only brings success to the restaurant, but also gives the kids a real life experience they don’t normally get.
“It’s not video games,” Tim Klena says. “Music always promotes enjoyment for people. It’s a trait you can use the rest of your life.”