You may have heard that San Luis Obispo’s 24-hour donut-coffee-study-music mecca, SLO Donut Company (SloDoCo), is expanding their shop. You might be stoked—you’ve probably seen, sampled, and dug their product.
You might even have some unintended mental association between the sight of a fresh dozen donuts and the tail end of Bob Seger’s ‘Night Moves’ when the choir comes in all like, “NIGHT MOVES,” and Seger’s all like, “I REMEMBER I REMEMBER I REMEMBER I REMEMBER.”
Or you don’t. I don’t.
Anyways, the shop’s new wing is slated to open around mid-April. According to SloDoCo’s Special Events Coordinator Erin Parsons, the expansion is oriented towards three different goals: firstly, they’re expanding the kitchen in order to make more donuts and variations thereof; secondly, they’re making more room for more people to hang out in the shop; and thirdly, they’re making a bigger and better event venue.
Now, I curse and use Netflix as much as the next guy, and it hurt my heart to see the video store next door to SloDoCo shut its doors, but, ultimately, this is some expansion in San Luis Obispo—what with the Which Wiches and Popeye’ses and Wing Stops and Smart & Finals and whatever hotels here and there—that one can really root for.
This is because when it comes right down to it, it’s one for the kids. Donut varietals aside, this expansion is gonna be huge for the community, as SloDoCo will be more equipped to fill a crucial niche in the local music and arts scene. Sure, there are a bunch of open mic nights and opportunities for artists to play at various coffee shops and bars around town; however, these events tend to draw older crowds and performers, and there’re perhaps fewer opportunities for younger artists who might not feel as comfortable playing these sorts of venues.
Maybe they get a house show going, but all it takes is one crotchety neighbor with a landline for them to wind up with a huge ticket. As Parsons told me, “there’s a lot of local music talent in the SLO community, and with the crackdown on noise violations, there aren’t many venue options.” And so SloDoCo’s offering a venue for shows that’ll always be free, and for which performers will be always be compensated with donuts.
And you know what’s really hard to do when you’re getting paid in donuts? It’s really hard to take yourself seriously (which in my opinion is to take yourself too seriously, anyways). This won’t exactly be a Greek Theater—nor should it be. In fact, in terms of like venue ethos and overall vibe, this’ll be a huge deviation from your SLO Brews, Kreuzbergs, Luna Reds, or really any venue around town.
This is absolutely not to say the SloDoCo show will be relatively “low-stakes” or something—sharing art never feels–or is that way; it’s rather perhaps a relatively low-pressure or -gravity place to participate in what is certainly one of the highest-stakes activities. (Is there not an elemental playfulness or even cartoonishness to the donut?)
Who this expansion’s essentially for is anyone who’s got their hands or eye on some Squire, drum kit, or synth and just wants to bop around with some friends; this is for the kid who’s spent all class just destroying her notebook teasing out a hook or verse.
Parsons said that the performers’ comfort and vision is and will continue to be the priority for SloDoCo’s shows, which are “very relaxed and give the talent the flexibility to do the show they want to.” The shop wants to provide the kind of environment that fosters fearless creativity.
Donuts alone won’t exactly get a van to LA, but SloDoCo’s expansion will provide local musicians of all ages and experience levels with a sandbox to root around in. In this time of manic growth for this town and area, I’m particularly (if not exclusively) excited to see the fruit that SloDoCo’s expansion will bear for generations of kids on the Central Coast who just wanna get their jelly-filled jam on and see what’s good with a maple bar or two.
Parsons seems to be excited for such growth, too, saying, “There is a lot of love and support in the SloDoCo shop, and I think it rubs off on our wonderful, talented performers. I hope they feel that support and continue to grow and play throughout the community.”
To book a show or get more information on the shop’s expansion and upcoming events, you can check out SloDoCo’s website as well as the company’s social media outlets. Or I’m sure you could just head down to the shop.
Scott Erdiakoff is a KCPR content contributor and Cal Poly English graduate student.