Barclays’ under new ownership but still awesome

Jason Gallaher

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Studies show that music helps the brain, so for those Matadors who need a little mental boost, there’s a coffee shop not too far from campus that offers multiple live music options each month.

Barclays Coffee & Tea Co., located on Tampa Ave., has jazz and singer/songwriter performers almost every Friday and Saturday night, as well as afternoon jazz jam sessions from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. every other Sunday.

Tony Sangiacomo, a CSUN alum who graduated in May with a degree in music industry studies, handles promotion and books performers for Barclays.

“A lot goes into our music events, and our performers aren’t just in the background,” Sangiacomo said. “These musicians get to be in the forefront and not just provide background noise.”

Sangiacomo looks for a mix of professional musicians and CSUN students in the jazz program to play at Barclays.

“Many of our performers are friends of mine through the jazz program or are current jazz majors,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for CSUN students to play with professionals.”

One of these professionals was Josh Nelson, a jazz pianist who has released five studio albums and performed with people such as Natalie Cole and Queen Latifah.

Sangiacomo thanks the emphasis on live music at Barclays to the willingness of the store’s new owners, Isaac and Irene Akouka.

“The new owners are supportive and really open to new ideas,” Sangiacomo said. “They have allowed me to have more live music than the past owner.”

The Akoukas took over the coffee shop five months ago, buying Barclays from the previous owner who ran it since its establishment in 1973.

Isaac Akouka said, along with a new paint job, providing live music is helping breathe new life into Barclays.

“The live music is doing great for business,” Akouka said. “We meet a lot of people and new faces. It’s just fun.”

Ian Roller, saxophonist and CSUN graduate in jazz performance, said he attends nearly every jazz jam session.

“It’s great because everyone’s welcome,” Roller said. “It’s here not just for the CSUN community, but for the local community and music community as well.”

Sangiacomo said that one of the best parts of having live music is it invigorates the coffee shop with energy.

“Jazz is a style of music that has a fun vibe,” he said. “You can clap in the middle of a song, come in and order a drink, and not worry about making noise. It’s a really relaxed environment that’s all about the music.”

Barclays offers a variety of coffees to choose from while listening to this music with international names such as Jamaica Blue Mountain, Mocha Yemen, Sumatra Mandheling and Kona-Kenya-Columbia.

Northridge resident Adam Artizada summed up his experience at a Saturday night Barclays jazz performance.

“I came here for the musicians and it’s great,” he said. “The coffee’s great, the music’s great. It’s definitely better than Starbucks.”