Long Play Cafe, a new record store and café, made its debut in Lawrenceville

Do you know how you can judge the anticipation of a new store? Look for nose print smudges on windows. By these standards, the Long Play Cafe record store/coffee shop on Butler Street in Lawrenceville is getting a lot of attention even before it begins normal business hours next week.

No one is as excited about new customers as Roos (Dutch, pronounced Rose), the friendly pup who welcomes everyone.

In second place is Brian Broad, owner of Long Play Café. This guy loves records. Not in the normal way for a record store owner either. He wants the absolute best for them. This includes giving each album a thorough cleaning that’s like restoring a piece of art punishable by decades of dusting and rough handling.

He radiates wide joy when he picks up a rare record freshly cleaned in 1968 by avant-garde psychedelic greats who lost the USA. The record looks flawless, and even the casing glows.

Long Play Café owner, Brian Broad and Ross.

Broad’s passion for vinyl began in Amsterdam, where he lived for 10 years.

“They were selling 35- and 40-year-old jazz drums in a shop there,” he recalls. “I told the owner one day, ‘Dude, I came back here because I live here. But if I had just come and checked out this store, I’d say ‘Man sells dirty records; it’s a bullshit store. Don’t waste your time. But I know you, so it’s a different story.’

“So I bought the record and took it home. I have this machine called Loricraft from England on which I clean records. I also clean all the jackets with paper towels with Zippo lighter fluid. (This removes decades of dust, adhesive labels and other assorted sticky stuff) So I took him to the store and said, “Now, this is He is a record 35-year-old. “

Brian Broad cleans records at the Long Play Café.

Standard seller agreed in Amsterdam. Soon Brod would strap that machine to the back of his bike and ride it through the streets of Amsterdam to the store every weekend.

“When we got back to the States, he (the shop owner in Amsterdam) asked, ‘What are you going to do, man? “I’m done with IT. I’m going to open a record store. I have no idea how to do it, but I’ll figure it out,” Brod recalls.

Broad opened his first Long Play Café in Newark, Delaware, a college town (University of Delaware). After that, Broad’s wife was offered a job at the PPG Foundation, so they came to see Pittsburgh.

“We came to visit in late November, and I was blown away,” says Broad.

Oddly enough, although Pittsburgh has a number of world-class record stores, none are in Lawrenceville or Bloomfield (RIP Paul’s and 720 Records), the epicenter of Pittsburgh’s music scene. Although rents are high, foot traffic on Butler Street is lively.

Although Broad is the most passionate about records, he also loves coffee. He has a special blend of Italian Musetti coffee that he absolutely loves in Europe. It’s hard to find, but he has another Italian company working on a special blend for him. Long Play Café was selling food in Newark, but when Brod looked around Butler Street, he noticed “there’s a lot of good food here already”.

So he focuses on what he does best. This will sell records.

Broad prefers, well, a broad approach to organizing the selection—there’s a little bit of everything, from ’60s West Coast Jazz to vintage Funkadelic to local legend Mac Miller (who used to score several doors down). He stores more classics and folk records than other local stores for people who are just starting their collections.

Long Play Café. Photography by Mike Machowsky.

Broad says he has about 10,000 records in his collection and only a fraction appear so far on walls and shelves (although there are some really good records). Its cleaning and pricing process—which includes a survey of what each record sells in the global online marketplace Discogs—takes time.

The life of the log used is not always happy – but that is not the case here.

“We buy records — no pre-booking, appointment; we can visit the owner if they can’t bring them to us — and we’ll help people who just want to move things they don’t want anymore,” Brod notes. “We find a value in just about every record, even if it’s just converting it to a clock or a bowl, because of its inoperable state.”

(Yes, he makes watches, bowls, and coasters out of damaged logs.)

All records used are run on the Lori Craft PRC4 cleaning machine.

“It’s one of the best cleaning machines made,” says Broad. “It’s a stick extractor cleaner that pulls all the water out of the grooves, taking dirt, dust, and mold with it. It’s incredible.”

To prove his point, Broad put on the newly deleted Motown Record by Junior Walker and All Stars. The familiar, warm analog hissing remains, but all the crackles, pops, and hops are all gone. This record is as close to new as possible.

Long Play Café. Photography by Mike Machowsky.

There are comfortable chairs and a rug in front that can be moved around for small shows. There is also a vault, which will open as a bargain basement with chests of $1 logs.

Store hours are limited this week – Wednesday to Saturday 11am-5pm or by appointment. The store will be open next week from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm

“We want to get a sense of what the neighborhood needs and wants, and what customers might like,” Broad says. He speculates that Lawrenceville might want an early morning coffee, or, if weekday evening hours are preferred, he’ll adjust.

“I have a doorbell here,” says Broad, who says he lives near the corner. “If the lights are on, and I’m here working, and you want to buy a cylinder, come on.”

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