When the economy took a dive, one Space Coast business rose to its feet – and brought the area's music scene with it, to what now looks like a community-wide standing ovation.
Fueled by a creative, unique and adaptable approach to business, Florida Discount Music has become one of Central Florida’s top nightlife hotspots.
You’ve never seen a business quite like this one before.
The Brevard Busking Coalition, playing at Open Mike's — Photo courtesy of Open Mike's
By day, it's a music store, selling guitars, instruments and audio gear. And organic coffee.
Florida Discount Music boasts one of the few organic-only cafes in the region. The offerings are truly organic, all the way down to the sugar, mixers and dairy.
By night, Florida Discount Music transforms into a popular music and comedy venue, Open Mike's, featuring live music nearly every day of the week. Once a month, meet expert musicians and enjoy a treat: free group music lessons.
Owner Mike DellaCioppa says he never set out to run a business like this.
DellaCioppa and his wife were simply music-lovers who took over this longstanding Space Coast business a little over a decade ago; Florida Discount Music has been a Central Florida staple for about 45 years now.
But shortly after the DellaCioppas bought the business, the economy crashed, and it took music stores with it.
“Music retail was hit hard," he says. "People shop online. We wondered how to get them to come in and hang out and shop here.”
Open Mike's first branched out as a coffee shop — Photo courtesy of Open Mike's
He says he reluctantly followed a friend’s suggestion to set up a small cafe in house and sell coffee.
“We didn’t understand it at first. We're a music store; it didn’t make sense,” DellaCioppa says.
But the community got it, and they liked it. Within a few months, his wife had added wine to the list. That’s when they began wondering how to better promote the wine.
Another friend suggested organizing a community jazz jam, to get more people in the shop and show off the wine menu.
Again, DellaCioppa says he was unsure. But again, he took the risk.
Within two months, the Friday Night Jazz Jam at "Open Mike’s” was so popular the shop had to extend open hours. They revamped the lounge to make it feel homey, yet professional and clean, with intimate, low lighting and a high-quality sound system.
This led to a weekly funk jam.
You can also see comedy at Open Mike's on Wednesdays — Photo courtesy of Open Mike's
“It turned into this smash hit that blows me away every Monday night. It’s insane,” DellaCioppa says.
Several underground comedians suggested a Wednesday night "WTF Comedy Show” (That stands for “way too funny." What were you thinking?), which is now the busiest night of the week. It’s usually standing room only, drawing some big-name comedians.
Then, Open Mike’s decided to solidify more of the week with a blues jam on Thursdays and open mic on Tuesdays.
“People say it was a great idea, but it wasn’t my idea at all,” DellaCioppa says. “It just kind of happened organically. That’s the beauty behind it.”
Open Mike’s serves alcohol, but it’s a family-friendly establishment (Except the stand-up comedy night.) that regularly draws young musicians to play on the same stage as some of the region’s most seasoned, reputable rockers.
“It’s an eclectic crowd, and everyone’s here to just hear great music or have laughs with the comedy,” DellaCioppa says. “Every night, I have to pinch myself. I can’t believe this is happening in my place. I’m very humbled by the whole experience.”