Shop small. As cyber sales and big box retailers drive nails into the coffins of the mom-and-pop shops across the U.S., it’s more important than ever for us to find ways to support the small business people who make communities better. Matt Megyesi is one of those. His bookstore, Mutiny Info Café on S. Broadway in Denver, not only anchors the hip SoBo walking district, but he’s also hand-over-fist focused on supporting local cultural arts, from new and emerging authors and comic artists to hosting live local music and sponsoring bigger shows outside of the confines of his shop. Here, Matt talks to us about preserving the coffee-shop culture of old Denver, balancing the books and buying into your dreams.
French Davis: Tell me the story of how you came to own Mutiny.
Matt Megyesi: So way back in ’94, my buddy Jim Norris (Rev. Jim, owner of Three Kings Tavern in Denver) and I were sitting on top of his apartment, and we’d been doing this zine called THE. We started talking about really cool things we’d like to do, and one of them that popped up was, “Wouldn’t it be cool to own a coffee shop or wouldn’t it be cool to own a bookstore?” We know they were kind of pipe dreams back then. Then about five or six years ago, Jim and I started having lunches, and talking about doing this old idea. It turns out Jim had been looking at some properties around town. One day we went over to the old Mercury Café on Pearl and 13th. We’re looking through the window thinking about how much things would cost, how much renovation stuff we would have to do, what kind of things we wanted to have there; like books and coffee and records and comic books and pinball machines, places where people can chill out, places where we can have bands play. We didn’t meet up again for a couple months, and then out of the blue, Jim called me up and says, “I need you to come down here right away I got some news.” I go to see Jim at Three Kings where he is bartending, and he says “Jack Jenson at Mutiny Now is ready to sell his book store.” We are both kind of just flabbergasted. It was the perfect canvas with all the materials that we needed to make this dream happen. We scraped together some cash with our partner Joe Ramirez, and bought the bookstore from Jack.
FD: What makes Mutiny special?
MM: The magic feeling when you walk in. Just the vibe of the place encourages you to do something; read, listen, look, hear, riot, fall in love, drink coffee, laugh.
FD: You do a helluva lot more than run a bookstore. Talk about the vision for Mutiny as a hub for the arts and music and why you approach it this way.
MM: We wanted to run an all ages venue. We wanted to give everyone the opportunity to create something of their own, share some knowledge, or start something special. A place where upcoming revolutionaries could mingle with mentors, kids could hear music previously only available to over-21-ers in bars, a late night spot like we had at Muddy’s, St. Mark’s, or Paris on the Platte.
FD: What are the things that surprised you the most when you got into this business?
MM: How every day is different. The shop is a living organism that is constantly changing; new spaces, books, comics, music, people coming and going everyday.
FD: What is the hardest part about what you do? What do you love the most?
MM: Keeping the checkbook balanced. I feel like I don’t spend enough time with the people and friends I have meet there. I love meeting people, making coffee, hosting events, seeing awesome stuff, constantly being amazed.
FD: Who are some local authors we should check out?
MM: Josiah Hesse, Ken Arkind, Charly Fasano, Brian Polk, Zack Kopp. There are some great comic book artists and authors too: Zak Kesella, Alan Brooks, Daniel Crosier, Lonnie Allen. There are so many talented people in Denver right now, it’s unreal.
Check out Mutiny Info Café events, like the Mother Fucker in a Cape podcast with Alan Brooks and Jordan Forehlich on the second Wednesday of each month; and the Magicians Open Mic (third Monday of each month). More events at MutinyInfoCafe.com and check out the shop at 2 S. Broadway in Denver.