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Saturday, August 23, 2014

New music venue at Nashua’s Riverwalk Cafe opens with jazz, funk – and full house

Nashua resident Bob McIntosh, a voracious reader, often lands at reader-friendly downtown shops and restaurants to catch up on things.

On Thursday night, McIntosh sat at one of his favorite stops, the Riverwalk Cafe in Railroad Square, books and laptop open in front of him. ...

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Nashua resident Bob McIntosh, a voracious reader, often lands at reader-friendly downtown shops and restaurants to catch up on things.

On Thursday night, McIntosh sat at one of his favorite stops, the Riverwalk Cafe in Railroad Square, books and laptop open in front of him.

But there was something new that night, which McIntosh said only made reading at Riverwalk an even more enjoyable experience.

Thursday marked opening night of the 4-year-old Railroad Square staple’s newest endeavor, a live music venue accompanied by a new cocktail menu and expanded appetizer and “evening” menu that owner Steve Ruddock built in a recently vacated space adjacent to the coffee shop.

“I like it; it’s a great sound,” McIntosh said, taking a break from his reading to watch an ensemble called Joe Cunningham and Friends and to take in the musicians’ jazzy, funky selections.

“I think (music) is a great addition here.”

With the new room comes a new name: Riverwalk Cafe and Music Bar, to reflect its twin venues. While some finish work remains in certain spots in both rooms, the grand opening went off well, owner Steve Ruddock said.

“Great so far,” Ruddock said from behind the bar as he, bartenders and servers worked around one another to take care of the customers. “Good crowd; the music’s great.”

Ruddock and his wife, Jane, opened the business in July 2010 under the name Riverwalk Roasters Coffee and Cafe, taking over from the shop’s previous owner.

They began specializing in their own blends of organic and fair-trade coffees that they roasted in-house, and served breakfast and lunch fare, including pastries, sandwiches and soups, all day.

Then, as now, the Ruddocks also paid a lot of attention to the decor, hosting exhibits by local and regional artists and selling imported pottery.

The first steps toward the new music lounge came with the addition of open-mic Friday nights, which alternated between live music and poetry readings.

The Ruddocks set their sights on expanding several months ago when next-door-neighbor Olga’s Bridal & Alterations moved out of the roughly 1,100-square-foot space to a new shop on Amherst Street.

The Ruddocks assumed the lease and got the OK to turn it into a music room, and the project was underway.

Regular customers watched the progress, eventually getting a view of what would become the music room when the interior wall was partially cut away. The bar, with several stools, was relocated to the north side of the room, facing the windows that look out over Railroad Square.

For more information, visit www.riverwalk
nashua.com.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashua
telegraph.com.