Damascus Community Loses The Music Cafe

Ally Haddad, Features Editor

   The Music Cafe, a restaurant in Damascus that offers homemade sandwiches, live music, local craft beer and gourmet coffee is closing after 15 years of “Letting the Good Times Roll.” The walls are decorated with hundreds of records and the names of the items on the menu, some of which are inspired by popular songs, artists and albums. 

   The lease on the building has ended and the owners have decided not to renew. Pre-pandemic, the owners were excited about the future of the restaurant. The lobby, stage area, artwork, menus and patio were all redone. However, after two years of dealing with repercussions of the pandemic, the owners are losing more money than they’re making by continuing to stay open. The increase of food cost, as well as payroll and finding reliable employees have contributed to its closing. The opening of chains such as Dunkin’ Donuts and more recently Starbucks, caused them to lose customers. Owners Randy and Christine Anderson were planning on staying open until the end of January but after losing their cook of 10 years, they don’t have the support to stay open. During the peak of the pandemic, their staff dropped from 14 to six, resulting in an earlier closing time and fewer hours the restaurant could stay open. COVID prevented the cafe from live music, and without open mic night, music bingo, and scheduled performances the cafe hasn’t had as many customers. Owner Christine Anderson said, “music is our bread and butter” and with out it, the restaurant isn’t the same. 

Clearspring Elementary School’s School of Rock performing at the cafe. (MCPS)

   The Cafe holds a special place in the heart of many in our community. Over the years people have come to the cafe for “marriage proposals, first dates, funerals, birthdays, showers” to listen to live music and eat quality food, said Randy Anderson on their Facebook page. The restaurant has hosted events for local elementary schools to showcase their musical talent, tribute concerts and large fundraising events. 

   “We literally watched our children grow up there. It was a place where they, and many others, called home.” Randy Anderson wrote on their Facebook page. The loss of one of the only remaining family-owned businesses in Damascus is devastating. These small businesses depend on support from its communities during difficult times to stay afloat. The following message was posted on their Facebook page as part of a longer good-bye message, “Now, our very last day of business will be Saturday, December 11th. We’ll probably stay open a bit late that evening under the circumstances. So there’s not much time left people. Come and get your last fill of The Music Cafe. You’ve all touched our hearts for a strong fifteen years.”