By Gabe Fernandez

MilkBoy Arthouse finally got a chance to officially celebrate its university collaboration Sept. 27 with a VIP open house.

Despite being open since May 2, the owners and collaborators of the new restaurant and music venue had yet to host a welcoming event directed toward administrative members at this university.

“This was really an opportunity to get more of the campus representation, particularly from the office of the president, here in the building for an event because we haven’t had an opportunity to do so,” said Megan Pagado-Wells, associate director of the artist partner program at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

The event was not student-oriented. But these adults were not just people who work closely with President Wallace Loh. Among the guests were local business owners, residents of College Park, and other neighboring towns, and even some former graduates who were interested in what the new building was about. Christian Cerria, one such graduate, attended to see how the first steps of the city’s 2020 vision with the university was coming along

“[MilkBoy Arthouse] is a really great start to achieving that vision and I think it’s a great milestone for downtown,” he said. “It really contributes to the atmosphere and enhances College Park in the way we all know and love. I’m excited to see what’s to come because this is the first major achievement in really revitalizing College Park and making it more urban and DC-esque.”

The reception itself was one that seemed to mix the flavor of a brand new establishment with the throwback to early-morning collegiate drinking habits. Upon entering, well-dressed guests were greeted with Milkboy’s gourmet donuts, coffee and mimosas. While the donuts may have been a bit too sticky for some to even try, the mimosas peaked the interest of many. All the while, smooth jazz music played in the background.

A little less than an hour into the event, the keynote remarks began. President Loh was unable to attend the event, but Carlo Collela, vice president for administration & finance for the university, spoke in his place.

“As you can see this is like nothing else here in College Park,” he said. “This is the start of many things to come.”

The speeches from all of the guests who came from this university focused on the idea that the space had improved significantly from what it once was and they were looking ahead to forget what the past held for it. Some even made jokes about the debauchery that happened when they attended school here.

Some of the more serious messages came from Jamie Lokoff, one of the founders of MilkBoy  Philadelphia, who emphasized ideas of the arthouse becoming an inclusive space where everyone could feel welcome, a feature often lost in commercialized music establishments.

Ultimately, everyone, from a state senator to the founders of MilkBoy Philadelphia, talked about how the venue would be a place where the campus and community could “gather, connect and explore.” At least, that’s the hope for assistant executive director for The Clarice, Erica Bondarev Rapach.

“There are ways for students to connect with us and be curatorial partners to help us find artists that would appeal to the student population, or at least a portion of it,” she said. “We want students to attend show here and enjoy like jazz and some great food. We really want this to be a place so people who are interested in this kind of business can connect with us.”

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of Geoff Sheil.

Gabe Fernandez is a senior journalism major and can be reached at gfernand@umd.edu.

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