Beatnix restaurant stays open late, keeps it classic

Beatnix owner Benn Stimmel shows off his favorite piece of artwork on the Beatnix walls. Robbi Rodriguez, featured on Marvel comics, came in one Christmas break to feature his work for Beatnix.
Photos by Sarah Gardner | Lariat Reporter
The Beatnix walls are offered as a canvas for anyone who comes in. Beatnix owner Benn Stimmel encourages people to leave a piece of their artwork on the walls to remember their experiences at Beatnix.

By Sarah Gardner

It’s a little place off Colcord Avenue that only a select few know about. It’s a venue. It’s a coffeehouse. It’s a restaurant known for its Texas burger and sweet potato fries.

And it’s called Beatnix.

Located at 1700 Colcord Ave., Beatnix blends all three of these elements into one, making it your one-stop shop for all kickback college needs. The name comes from the ’50s version of hippies, called beatniks, who drank coffee, read poetry and spoke of revolution.

“Penney Simpson, the original owner, wanted to emulate the coffeehouses of the ’50s and ’60s and wanted to incorporate the poetry and music,” current owner Benn Stimmel said. “Beatnix, World Cup Café and Jubilee Theatre are trying to turn this part of town into Waco’s art district.”

With the three artsy businesses combined, Waco would be on its way to establishing its very own art district. The only problem is, according to Stimmel, not enough people are coming to this part of town because of the impression the neighborhood is crime-ridden.

“There used to be this big housing project called Parkside, and people were freaked out to come to this neighborhood,” Stimmel said. “What people don’t realize is that as soon as that shut down, crime went down dramatically. I actually feel safer here than next to Baylor.”

Beatnix is a one-of-a-kind place because of its atmosphere. The stage is in a different room conjoined to the dining area, which allows for casual dining and listening to live music every Friday and Saturday night.

Beatnix’s stage, separated from the restaurant’s dining area, features live music every Friday and Saturday night.

Open mic nights on Friday allow for bands, or people looking to read their poetry, to get their name established in Waco. Beatnix also allows touring bands to play any day of the week, and they book shows every Saturday.

“It has such a relaxed atmosphere,” La Porte senior Kim Thurman said. “Not a Common Grounds kind of relaxed, but like a sit-and-eat-my-hamburger-while-listening-to-a-really-good-band-in-the-next-room kind of relaxed.”

Another thing drawing students to Beatnix is its late hours, with doors staying open until 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

“It’s the only place to get a cup of coffee at 3 a.m. in Waco that I know of,” former Baylor student Cara Guthrie said. “It’s definitely not a last resort, but rather a nice place to go at that hour.”

Its menu ranges from the Bacon, Egg and Cheesewich, a favorite among late-night visitors, to vegetarian and vegan options. Beatnix also serves a wide variety of drinks including lattes, shakes, espressos and a lemonade slushy.

“We serve our breakfast and dinner menu all day long,” Stimmel said. “If someone wants a burger at 4 a.m., they can have it.”

Local artists flock to Beatnix, whether to put up their art to sell or just to draw on the walls. The drawings give personality to the once all-white walls. Stimmel lets anyone leave a piece of their art at Beatnix.

“It lets people be a part of something,” Stimmel said. “They can bring their friends and say, ‘Hey look, I drew that.’”

Beatnix is a place where “everyone wants to go to for good music and good people” and “food that tastes like it’s homemade but it’s just a little bit better than that,” said former Baylor student Alex McElroy. It turned into what it is now because of Stimmel’s personal experience .

“I wanted to put together a place that I didn’t have when I was 16- and 17-years-old,” Stimmel said. “I grew up in a small town…. I was the outcast, and I didn’t have a place like this to see the shows.”

Beatnix was formerly located at the corner of 19th Street and Lakeshore Drive.