Mylo Coffee Co. is officially the new owner of the space that once belonged to Afterthought Bar and Bistro. Afterthought fans need not fear, however, as the new ownership plans to maintain the integrity of the venue’s long history during the renovation process, which is scheduled to be completed in 2017. Along with a stage, the venue will feature a restaurant and top-notch bar program.
“We’re really excited about it,” says Mylo Coffee Co. owner Stephanos Mylonas. “We have a lot of things we want to achieve. There are two main objectives. One is to take the history and the importance of the Afterthought and create a larger venue that heavily focuses on performing arts, and marry that with an amazing bar program and an approachable, exciting food program.
“The second objective is to grow this store (Mylo Coffee Co.) a little bit in terms of customer space, but much more in the back-of-house operations.”
This venture marks the second time Mylonas has owned and operated a music venue, the first being in the UK. This time around will be a family affair, as he is bringing the other Mylo Coffee Co. owners on board. Co-owners include his wife, Monica, his brother Markos and sister-in-law Jessica Lauren Mylonas, and his brother-in-law Aaron Madey. Aaron will additionally serve as general operations manager, while Jessica will be the events manager.
First up, the music. The venue will undergo a transformation to expand the dedicated performance space and accommodate 100+ people. Stephanos envisions bringing in some larger regional and national acts to perform while also bolstering Little Rock’s own music scene. For that, he has turned to his brother’s wife, Jessica. A regularly performing musician, Jessica has worked with musicians and theaters in the Little Rock area for seven years and hopes the new space will be a boon to musicians in Arkansas and beyond.
“My vision is to create a space that is intimate but fills this gap I can see in Arkansas,” she says. “What I’d like to do is create a venue that attracts these regionally and nationally touring acts. And the way I’d like to do that is through connections and relationships … I’d like to work with other regional venues and be able to tell someone, ‘Hey, I got you a seven-city tour. Would you come?’ Then they’re much more likely to come. … I really want to foster a stronger community with the venues, because when one of us grows, we all grow.”
The goal is for people to feel at home, as she continues, “I want you to come in and feel comfortable as a musician and as an audience member.” The team also plans on keeping it local, as well. Jessica has already hit the ground running in reaching out to local musicians to make connections and to chat about the legacy the Afterthought left behind.
“The Afterthought has been around for over forty years. It was a staple in this community – the integrity of what that was has to stay, the heart of it has to remain. Jazz has to exist here and the musicians that called it home for so long have to be comfortable here,” she explains.
The renovation will take part in stages. The former Afterthought’s private dining area will be walled off and opened into Mylo Coffee Co. for expanded seating. That development should be ready in the next few months. Mylo will close for a few days at the end of the summer to knock down a wall and open up the new seating area. From there, the team expects a large renovation project that will take the Afterthought down to the walls and rebuild it from the ground up.
“We’re achieving a betterment of this venue (Mylo Coffee Co.), and also a new and exciting concept that is going to work very closely together with this one,” says Stephanos.
Don’t forget the food and drink. When it’s complete, the as-yet unnamed restaurant and bar will specialize in food prepared in a wood-burning brick oven, a concept the team has been exploring for some time.
Mylonas has robust plans for the bar, including a large selection of Arkansas and regional craft beer. He also plans on hiring a beverage director to develop a unique cocktail menu and consult with a sommelier to begin working on a wine list.
Stephanos didn’t want to reveal any potential names for the new restaurant, though he says it will be a separate entity from the coffee business, with no indoor access between the two.
His wife Monica is focused on the early stages of the new space and menu. She says, “I’m very interested in the design of the space and also the design of the menu, because cooking has been a big passion of mine for a long time. I hope to get to help all of us express what we envision as a rustic, inviting place to hang out and listen to music.”
Monica’s brother Aaron Madey has worked at Mylo as general manager since the storefront opened.
“Working here has been my career since college,” says Madey. “I’ve enjoyed it. I believe I’ve helped the company be successful, and I’m glad to jump on.”
Markos Mylonas is particularly excited for the expansion, as he says, “It’s going to allow me to push the coffee program even further.”
The move makes Mylo Coffee Co. the sole tenant of the 19th-century building, which was originally Pulaski Heights town hall. The team says preserving and celebrating that history is one of the goals of the project.