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Backstreet documentary launches Friday night summer series at the Mag Center enclave

Local lunchtime legend tries nightlife as a way to expand access to one of Riverside’s most beloved institutions

Patrons enjoyed a rare evening event at Backstreet Restaurant in September 2023. (Courtesy Arcade Coffee Roasters)

When you acquire a business that has been around for almost 60 years, you’re not just buying the real and intellectual properties. You are buying into a community. This is especially true at places like the Backstreet Cafe. Backstreet has built a tenaciously loyal customer base that is passionate about their Magnolia Center enclave.

It’s the nature of the entrepreneur to identify and solve problems. To the regular Backstreet patrons, there is nothing to fix. That presents a challenge for a new owner. How do you respect the community’s traditions while being true to yourself? When the team at Arcade took on Backstreet, they brought their loyal community, a strong and established brand, and the confidence that comes with success. It is clear, however, that they love the Backstreet Cafe, the business, the building, and the community.

“We are so honored to carry on the legacy of Backstreet and be the ones to introduce it to the next generation.” Co-owner Stevie Hasemeyer says about the Backstreet brand, “Like the McCluskeys and Holloways said, Backstreet is generational, we are going to see families grow and develop here, be a part of special life events and create shared moments that will last long after we are all gone.”

Backstreet offers a unique opportunity for a harmonious existence between existing and emerging customer bases. Famously, Backstreet is a lunch-only operation. Honoring the tradition of this schedule allows Arcarde creativity to offer a new experience in the space without upsetting the routines of existing customers.
Devereaux House is Arcade’s wine-focused brand, named after the house adjacent to Backstreet that has long served as overflow and rainy-day seating for the cafe. Beginning Friday, June 14, Nights on Nelson will give patrons a chance to see what Backstreet looks like in the dark. Devereaux House will offer wine, food, and entertainment each Friday for the remainder of the Summer.

The Arcade Team has produced a documentary on the Backstreet Cafe to be premiered at the inaugural Nights on Nelson event. The film is an homage to the cafe’s rich history and a sacramental ceremony that joins what has been with what is to come.

Riverside needs nightlife outside of downtown. Seeing something more refined and sophisticated in a mature space on a weekend evening is encouraging. Arcade is a short walk or bike ride from thousands of Magnolia Center residents. Its signature casual minimalism is perfect for an end-of-week outing with friends or a date. I am excited to check it out, and I’m sure that Nights on Nelson will succeed in building a second identity at Backstreet.