Torrington Stories

Downtown Cafe: A Cash Mob is Happening Here….



The photos in this blog are by Sheila Ivain        (c) 2014 Ivain

If I should have a thousand days for every one, I might be able to catalog the rich fabric of northwest Connecticut’s arts and culture scene in full. If had no other job or responsibilities and spent 365 days working on the project I would get closer to the mark but I fear I might still come up short.  There was a Five Points Gallery opening reception for Danielle Mailer’s work, then later there was an artist talk and I missed them both. I attended the Desultory Theatre’s fundraiser but they had a drum circle, game night, a unique burlesque show, and many other shows and I could not attend. And personally, the most important event to happen to me in my own personal fulfillment as an artist I have yet to share in this blog post but I will share it at the end of the week. 

Today’s post is about January 25th. It was a Saturday and it was an event filled day and this is just part one of three…

Part One: The Cash Mob

A light snow began to fall as we pulled in to a parking space across the street from the Morrison building and we’d have to walk north and then cross the street to get to our destination, the  Downtown Cafe  .   The Downtown Café is on the second floor of 131 Water Street with an off track betting facility on the first floor.  There are two entrances that face the roadway so that those who wish to enter the Café entrance can do so without crossing through the betting location.  Up the flight of stairs I met Paul Murdock who was preparing for guests to his establishment. It was 11:45pm, 15 minutes before they officially open.

“Are you Paul? I’m Joe Quirk…or ‘J. Timothy Quirk’ on the internet.” It’s a common introduction I have because friends who have known me a long time call me Joe but professionally J. Timothy Quirk has worked very well.  Paul, an owner of the Downtown Café introduced himself and I introduced him to my son and daughter.

We were there early because today was the first day of the cash mob and I wanted to hand out the cash mob cards and explain them. A cash mob is like a flash mob except as opposed to getting together and doing a dance, a community agrees to get together during a certain time frame and support a locally owned business. After a voting period of 3 days with 1600 votes cast for 14 nominees, Downtown Café had been selected as the winner for this month and the cash mob period would begin January 25th through 2/1 and anyone who showed up to support the cash mob during that time frame would be connected through the cash mob cards They are water color depictions of the building which I create and have the words “I supported a local business” on it. I sign and number each one so that way at the end of the week we’ll know how many participated. Paul said he would do a raffle at the end of the week using the numbers on the back of the card and the winner can get a gift certificate.

I had visited Downtown Café before to have some wings and they were excellent and I was looking forward to them again. My children had never visited this establishment so the novelty of a new place made them quieter and more reserved than usual.  The team who worked there were very sweet to the children and made it a very happy the experience.

Just before noon, Jay Roberts of performance hub came in. My son and daughter had met him before when he played for a Christmas party event at Marinello’s.  Jay and I talked about the upcoming video project which will help promote the city, a video project that will be filmed throughout the year and based on his Its Happening Here” song.  It will require funding to produce the song and the video. A fundraising page had been created on the Its Happening Here website but it had not been promoted yet. A decision was made, however that the song should be recorded now so that it provides a template for the video work, which will also be crowd sourced funded, to follow.  The song is an anthem for the city and will serve the city well.


As we discussed the song, more cash mob participants arrived. Skip Hoxie, the founder of the T-Town Chatter group and his lovely wife Demi arrived bringing with them a bag of food to donate to the food bank. They went to greet other cash-mobbers like Debra and Michael Gluz. Singer, song writer Robert C Fullerton arrived. I was fortunate that RCF had come to the cash mob as I knew he would; he participates in each one to support the community.  What he didn’t know was that I had intended on purchasing a copy of his album Never Too Late.  Since he didn’t know I was going to ask to buy one that day so he didn’t bring a CD with him into the Cafe but he had one in his car. Before the early afternoon was over he popped back downstairs and got it for me.


My friend and photographer Sheila Ivain arrived as did Ed Corey with his friends Casey and Jim. Dawn Hill of Dawn Hill Designs  was celebrating a birthday with her husband, who it seems shares the SAME BIRTHDAY so a dual celebration was being celebrated that day and they wanted to have par of it in a way that supported a  Torrington business.

A cash mob can be an experience like no other, for a community of people who interact on a daily basis online get to meet and talk to people in person. And there is a core of people who wish to help Torrington thrive within the facebook group T-Town Torrington Chatter and this is where the cash mob came from. This group interacts extensively online. Not everyone agrees on all of the topics and there has been a learning curve as the group progresses but when the opportunity arises for stepping up for the community, this group does just that.  I know they’re not the only ones, but I’m a part of this group and an administrator for it and I have seen what the group can do on a personal level.


With each new event and experience we learn and grow as a community. A cash mob is one way we get together and celebrate Torrington and what is happening in Torrington. Truth be told I was not a fan of the name “It’s Happening Here” when it was rolled out last year. But over time it has grown on me as I realize more and more that what IS happening here is something truly incredible and I can’t wait to share the next chapter with you tomorrow.


Categories: Torrington Stories

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