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The show must go on


Local deli starts up weekly performances to connect the community

Nate Marshall, a musician and juggler, and his daughter are considered regulars at Ooy’s Cafe and Deli

“My daughter loves it there,” Marshall said. “Every time I bring her down, the staff says hi to her as we have our coffee, burritos and smoothies.”

When Marshall found out about Ooy’s weekly performance nights, he was ecstatic to bring his music to the business. “One night I saw they were looking for musicians, and I was looking for somewhere to play,” he said.

“Someone told me to call Jeannette,” Marshall said. “So I did and she said ‘let’s do this.’”

Nate Marshall doing what he loves most: Performing | Source: Nate Marshall

Behind the creation

Jeannette Rodriguez, an employee and student at Ithaca College, has organized the Tuesday night shows since its inception in June. 

Due to the size of the team, Rodriguez said that a benefit to working at Ooy’s is that everything they do is very important and impacts the business. 

“Each staff member is listened to, and our boss really lets our creativity run wild,” Rodriguez said. 

That’s why Rodriguez felt comfortable approaching her manager with the idea.

“I approached my manager Dani and told her that since we had a stage, we should do live performances,” she said. “Little did I know she already had one lined up.”

Now, Rodriguez is in charge of contacting the artists, scheduling the lineup and promoting the shows. These lineups include artists like Marshall or VESTMENTS, a local band.

“At the beginning, we had a little bit of difficulty figuring out who was doing what, but now it’s all me,” Rodriguez said. “This event has completely become my child.”

Oftentimes, events like these come with some bumps in the road. However, Rodriguez was happy to say that they haven’t had to face anything too serious. 

Though a few people have canceled the day of the show, she said most people are very opportunistic and want to be there. 

“We don’t pay these performers to do this,” Rodriguez said. “This is really just a time for these people to jam out, practice, interact with people and basically just do whatever they want.”

Jeannette Rodriguez, IC student and Ooy’s employee discusses balancing her student work load while organizing a weekly event | Source: Brooke Vogel

Gathering the community

Compared to the CFCU Summer Concert Series in Downtown Ithaca, which can host hundreds of patrons, Marshall said he often prefers to perform at smaller venues. 

“With the Summer Concert Series, there’s a lot more money involved and lights and sound,” Marshall said. “That builds community on a larger scale, but this event builds it in a humbler way.” 

As someone who has held a crowd’s attention, Marshall said that Ooy’s gives performers and customers the chance to connect with one another in a more intimate setting. 

He joked and said that it was easier to compete with the noise of an espresso machine opposed to the chatter of dozens of people like at a concert or even a bar.

“I like that the room gets packed when there’s 30-40 people in it,” Marshall said. “In there, I’m just a guy sitting in a corner with his guitar and piano, singing songs and talking to people.”

On an uphill climb

Similar to other businesses in the Ithaca area, Tuesdays are a relatively slow day. Rodriguez said that they chose this day in hopes to bring in a little bit more service.

Though they are seeing a peak in service, Rodriguez said it’s not exactly where they want it to be yet.

However, she and the rest of the staff remain hopeful.

“We’ve only been doing this for five months,” she said. “We’re still riding the wave of trying to find our footing.”

In addition to the Ithaca community, the staff aims to expand their demographic to more college students.

“Advertising to Ithaca College and Cornell University is a little tricky because I’m the only one on the publicity team at the moment, but our goal is to eventually reach out to students as well.”

Rodriguez has lived in the area for five years and still has a hard time finding things to do.

“This is a great activity for locals and college students alike, especially at night,” she said.

With winter on the way, Rodriguez has hope that the cold weather won’t stop people from going downtown to enjoy the Tuesday night shows.

“We’re slowly becoming a staple business in the Downtown Ithaca area,” Rodriguez said. “I think we owe that to our Tuesday night shows.”

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