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Mount Auburn 47, Cambridge's newest coffee house, opened last Monday. Located next door to Harry's Arcade, it violates established traditions for Cambridge coffee house decor: it is large, well-lit, and comfortable.
"We are not trying to create a pseudo-European coffee house atmosphere," co-owner Paula Kelley explained. "This is an American coffee house. Actually, our place is more than a coffee house; it is a place where one can relax, meet friends, and listen to progressive jazz. We are not in business just to sell coffee."
Miss Kelley owns Mount Auburn 47 with her college classmate, Joyce Kalina. They met their senior year at Brandeis, where Joyce studied comparative literature and Paula medieval history. After graduation last year, Joyce went to New York to study acting, and Paula remained to work in Cambridge. Last October, Joyce returned to Cambridge. "Things were pretty dull," Paula related. "One evening we were sitting around, trying to think of something different to do. The idea of starting a coffee house was first a joke, but the next thing we knew we were in the business. I guess you could say it has been a long joke."
Neither of the girls had any previous business experience. "Our friends told us we were complete fools to try," Paula said. "It was difficult at first to convince solid, middle-class Americans that a new artistic endeavor could also be a financial success, but finally we got the backing we needed."
For two weeks, Joyce and Paula worked evenings, transforming an old second-hand furniture store into a coffee house. The secrets of coffee brewing were learned from an Italian who had lived in Arabia. According to Paula, he is "a poet, artist, and recluse, who lives in Boston."
Preliminary arrangements concluded, the owners opened last week, uncertain of their acceptance by the Harvard community. "Opening night was frantic. We had 200 people inside and turned away another 200 people."
The initial success of Mount Auburn 47 testifies to the popularity of the Steve Kuhn trio. Kuhn, an Adams House junior, is one of the outstanding young progressive jazz pianists in the Boston area. He is replaced on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights by classical guitarist Rudi Vannelli.
Joyce and Paula's interest as far as their coffee house is concerned is definitely jazz. "We are very interested in furthering progressive jazz," Paula explained. "It is very popular with students, and we want to provide a place where they can hear good experimental jazz."
"We also want to use our place as a medium of expression for other artists," she continued, pointing to the paintings of Tom O'Hara which are currently on exhibit. "We plan to change exhibits every three weeks or so, but we will not show just paintings. We also plan to exhibit photographs and other forms of art work."
A week old, Mount Auburn 47 has already established its popularity with Harvard students. "We have a relaxed, natural atmosphere," the girls pointed out. "Nobody bothers anybody here."
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