I almost missed this one, in the November 2 News-Leader… http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007711040319
Here’s our portion of the article, in case the link gets archived, and becomes unavailable:
On a recent weekend night, the Front Porch on South Avenue was filled with young people hanging out on couches, playing board games and perusing a selection of books lining a wall. Blackbird Cathedral, an instrumental trio, played music on a small stage while listeners ordered pastries or coffee.
“It’s pretty laid-back,” said Britney Carlo, 20, who was checking out the venue with her friend Emerald Callon, 21. “We like this atmosphere.”
Not the typical mental picture one might think of when it comes to a night out in downtown Springfield. Though the perception of downtown as merely a bunch of bars and nightclubs is a common one, it is increasingly a misconception.
Though nightlife watering holes helped lead the revitalization of the center-city district throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the continuing evolution of the area has meant more options for people of all ages and wider interests. From coffee to arcade games to music to comedy, a wide array of entertainment options downtown have nothing to do with alcohol.
Ryan Wiksell, who runs the Front Porch along with his wife, Christina, said they intent for the Front Porch to be a place for meeting and mixing.
The venue is a physical space for a Christian group called the Core, but Wiksell said the space isn’t devoted solely to Core activities.
“It’s a social venue for art, culture and community,” Wiksell said. “Community — that’s the big word for us.”
The Front Porch opened in September. For Wiksell, there wasn’t any doubt as to the best location to attract diverse crowds of people.
“A big part of it is just loving downtown,” he said when asked about inspiration for starting the Front Porch. “We wanted to be part of all that vibrancy, all the life that’s down here.”