MADISON — A second story steam punk paradise awaits in downtown Madison.
For the past 18 months, The Mad Bean coffee house owner Daniel Joyce has researched trends and motifs from the Gilded Age for inspiration as he’s restored the upstairs of his business, housed in an 1880s-era historic landmark.
Aglow with warm lighting, plaster walls painted verdigris and cinnabar, and a handsome wooden bar, the new venue at 103 E. Murphy Street opens Aug. 10 with Whiskey Foxtrot, a popular Winston-Salem alt-Americana rock band headlined by Reidsville native Seth Williams.
The hip coffee house, which opened in 2015 at another historic downtown location, has occupied the 1885 Madison Wholesale Grocery building here since January 2018.
A prolific artist and amateur inventor himself, Joyce said the late 19th century fascinates him in a way he wants to share with the public through his new event space.
“We were coming to the second wave of the Industrial Revolution … a time when Thomas Edison and (Nikola) Tesla were debating back and forth about things like widespread use of electricity, and incredible inventions and patents started surfacing.’’
Bare workings of a giant clock behind the new upstairs bar engage the imagination. With its Lucite pendulum, Joyce’s clock sets the tone while it tells time for the delightfully quirky industrial venue where Joyce, 28, plans to host regional bands, comedians and cultural arts events.
As a focal point for the new upstairs room, Joyce has fashioned a patent-worthy time piece with parts made from bicycle sprockets and lawn mower pulleys he sourced from his garage.
In the spirit of his industrial era heroes, Joyce researched clocks and astronomer/philosopher Galileo’s hand in creating the first mechanized time keepers and inventing the pendulum.
“And I created an Eiffel Tower-inspired Galilean clock,’’ he said, marveling at the fact his business sits in a building erected in 1883, four years before construction began on the Paris landmark.
A smaller iconic landmark, the Madison Town Clock “really sent my mind working, got my gears turning,’’ said Joyce, who toured the brick 1919 structure months back, then painted an homage to the chimer on the upstairs venue’s wall, again exposing clock work mechanisms in a 1-1 scale rendition.
With a new intimate space, Joyce plans to make a little history of his own by enlivening the downtown with thought-provoking and cutting edge regional acts at his showcase, just a quarter mile from the Dan River.
“The venue will be somewhat exclusive and intimate,’’ he said of the upstairs with an occupancy limit of 49. “The stage is right there, and you’re hearing and can almost connect with the performer better and reflect.’’
It’s the perfect new place for “a romantic night or a very special evening with a date … or for a business or employee appreciation event,’’ Joyce said.
Joyce uses the quaint anachronism, “the vertical conveyance,’’ when referring to the working 135-year-old original elevator to the second floor. And he plans to use it to hoist musicians’ equipment to a stage, trimmed at its base with vintage vinyl LPs.
“It’s quite beautiful to see that it’s (elevator) still there in place,’’ Joyce said. “It’s really stood the test of time.’’
Madison native Joyce found his true personality through performing on stages much like the one he brings to The Mad Bean, and he believes it will give the berg a cultural boost.
“We had to have a stage,’’ said the community theatre actor and set designer, who lends his talents to the McMichael High School drama department.
“I’m really fond of the performing arts … because being on stage really helped open me up to expressing myself. I was very withdrawn,’’ said Joyce, who got a treasured surprise gift from McMichael students to finish off his stage. “The presented me with the boom lights for the stage.’’
“Our mission with this stage is to not just have bands, but to have people get up to express themselves in a positive way,’’ Joyce said, brainstorming about plans to host forums similar to TED Talks, as well as more whimsy events like masquerades, at the yet-to-be-named upstairs haunt.
With a deep leather sofa and rich Oriental carpet runners, the handsome room was designed in part by Kernersville’s Tracy Snyder, known for his work construction and styling of his town’s popular Eclections coffee and wine bar.
Joyce’s wife Megan, a well-known presence at “The Bean,’’ will take the lead in managing the upstairs, where guests for a private “soft opening” in early August will vote on a name for the Speakeasy-style walk-up with access from a back door.
Bottled beer and wine will round out bar offerings for now, though Joyce plans to introduce beers on tap and eventually serve up a full bar with cleverly-named cocktails that toast the town and the steam punk era.
Guests to the upstairs will be able to dine in the early evenings in the downstairs coffee shop area, Joyce said, and the coffee shop will extend its hours on nights upstairs is hosting shows.
Upstairs shows will be scheduled on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, Joyce said.
“We’re really excited to see what a place like this will bring for everyone to enjoy.’’