By Setota Hailemariam

College Park’s proximity to Washington, D.C. has always been a selling point to prospective University of Maryland students — Smithsonian museums, gourmet restaurants and great concerts are just a Metro ride away. However, with the opening of MilkBoy ArtHouse, a restaurant and bar that doubles as a music venue on Route 1, students may not have to go to the city anymore to hear their favorite band.  

The project, a collaboration between MilkBoy Philadelphia, an already established venue of this kind, and the university’s own Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, opened May 2.

Its kitchen is in full swing, serving fares like wings and maple bourbon donuts, according to a menu published by Performances will start in August, and will feature shows spanning all sorts of genres, from “rock to bluegrass or alternative or reggae,” MilkBoy co-owner Jamie Lokoff said.

“There’ll be a mix of locals and national touring acts,” co-owner Bill Hanson said. “We’ve identified some pretty major artists that will be playing here in the coming months.”

“We think we can get four or five hundred people in there … an artist that’s pulling four or five hundred people is pretty well on their way,” Lokoff added.

When asked if the venue will host other types of events, like open mic nights, signings or readings, the two agreed that while nothing is definite, they are open to new ideas from the community and are “considering everything.”

“We see a vibrancy around college communities that is hard to find in other towns, and to be able to have that public-private partnership, create a bridge from campus to community, it’s why we’re here,” Hanson said.

The Clarice will put on programming as well, with 15 shows already booked for the venue for the 2017-2018 performance season, Erica Bondarev Rapach, associate executive director of The Clarice, said.

The shows fall under the categories of global music, performed by touring international artists playing music from different countries from around the world, jazz, and small-scale theater pieces.

When asked how students can get involved, Rapach listed a variety of ways.

“The Clarice very much values a multi-curatorial approach, which basically means that we don’t want to just have one person making decisions … we’re gonna be collaborating with student groups to decide together what artists come.”

Students in bands or groups will also be given the chance to perform at the space beginning in the fall, even if they are not studying performing arts.

The Clarice and MilkBoy joined forces three-and-a-half to four years ago, Rapach said, after MilkBoy Philly had been looking to bring their business down to College Park and The Clarice was looking into a way to combine a food and beverage experience with a performance experience.

“Those two things were happening in parallel, and then MilkBoy and Martin Wollesen [executive director of The Clarice] were introduced … the rest is history, as they say.”

MilkBoy ArtHouse is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.  

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Geoff Sheil.

Setota Hailemariam is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at

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