Denise Day and Lauren Beno, friends for 10 years, have always loved going out together for food and drinks.
But after the pandemic, they felt they needed a space where they could form more meaningful connections. So in July, the duo is opening Town Hall Collaborative at 525 Santa Fe Drive in the Art District on Santa Fe.
Town Hall Collaborative is what they call a “community gathering space.” It will have a bar, a stage for live music, karaoke nights and other events, plus a workshop space to host classes, including pottery, cooking, jewelry-making and sewing. There are also artist studios for rent and a large parking lot to host rotating food trucks.
“Going out for drinks over and over can seem kind of mundane, but having interactivity in an inclusive space is always something we really craved to find new friends, network and build community relationships,” Beno said.
Day added, “There were so many times during the pandemic where we wished we had a place to go and talk to people in the community, learn from them and engage.”
Day, 39, and Beno, 34, met in Boulder a decade ago while working in marketing at a bakery. The two have stayed friends since and decided to take the leap to start their own business when they had some free time during the pandemic.
“We faced a lot of male-dominated leadership throughout our careers and continuously felt like we were being drawn towards our own thing,” Day said.
The duo leased the 7,700-square-foot space in October for five years. It was previously home to Wayfinder Co-op, a coworking space for outdoor entrepreneurs that closed during the pandemic.
Tom McLagan, executive chairman at Hyder Construction, owns the property.
Day and Beno held a Kickstarter campaign in February and raised $46,656 from 227 backers to help with the renovations, which include new plumbing and electricity, plus some aesthetic updates. And they raised $15,000 on Kiva, which crowdfunds loans for borrowers.
“We have always watched Kickstarter as marketers and been intrigued by the all or nothing element and the ability to bring a community together to support something,” Day said.
Overall, they plan to spend a little under $150,000 on getting the space up and running. And they’ve hired Jesa Janjic with Janjic Architecture to design the space.
The duo hopes to open Town Hall Collaborative in July. For now, they are hosting pop-up events in the parking lot for First Fridays.
“I’m excited to see the magic unfold,” Beno said.
“I’m looking forward to the moment where I’m hanging out in the space, talking to new people and new friends,” Day added. “We’ve always said we just want to create the space and get out of the way for the community to embrace it.”