North Texas Daily

Man about town: Denton resident epitomizes the spirit of the city

Man about town: Denton resident epitomizes the spirit of the city

December 06
17:32 2017

As the home base of two universities, Denton is only a temporary home to many young adults who leave upon graduation. But others stay, lured by a sense of belonging to the unique feel and community that resonates throughout the city.

One of the people who stayed is UNT alumnus Matt Quenette, and he’s working hard to keep Denton his home.

By day, Quenette can be spotted at Aura Coffee, typically wearing a grey shirt and light blue jeans, asking customers how they like their morning cup of coffee. By night, Quenette is often found behind the bar at Dan’s Silverleaf, serving up much different types of beverages. He is immediately recognizable by his white and gray hair hanging down to his shoulders, evenly blended in with his sideburns and thick beard.

Quenette represents the uniqueness of every person in Denton — his hippie looks and spontaneous nature represents his personality. He enjoys spending time with people he has known for years in the area and walking into a restaurant and recognizing almost every face. Denton’s community-oriented culture touches him, and his personality epitomizes the easygoing and carefree nature of the city.

“I always admired his free-spirit nature,” Quenette’s best friend Camille Green said. “As far as I have known Matt, he’s always been out and about.”

Quenette and Green have known each other for almost two decades, even when Quenette would leave for months on his nationwide travels.

“My husband and I always had a room in our house for Matt whenever he came back from his hiking trips,” Green said. “He wouldn’t have showered and stunk up the house. It was funny.”

Quenette may leave for months at a time for excursions around the country, but no matter where his travels took him, he always landed back in Denton.

“Town of Denton will do just about anything to help anyone as much as they can,” Quenette said. “A few years ago a friend of mine from eat side got together with 20 musicians, made songs and all the proceeds went to help a woman with a mess.”

Relaxing in the back office of Aura Coffee — where he is currently a general manager — Quenette thrillingly reminisced about another night a few years back — he was sitting in an empty bar leaning against the counter past closing hours, and he was on his second beer. That’s usually how much he drank after a long night of bartending. In the silence, under the sole light that was on in the building, he stared at the radio tuned to 92.9 FM.

“I got a text earlier that day from friends urging me to tune in because they were doing a test run for a new local radio station called Elk River Session,” Quenette said. “These are the same friends who six years back pirated the airwaves from their apartment on Fry Street to launch a local station, albeit briefly.”

Six years later, it was now legal for them as a nonprofit to air within a three-mile radius in town.

After a few moments, a slightly muffled tune rose from the static. Quenette recognized the tune and turned up the volume. It was a noise rock song that one of his good friends from Elk River Sessions sang back in the day — a friend of his who had died of cancer.

“I just sat there in the bar sobbing,” Quenette said. “I still get really emotional thinking about that night — that is one of the things that I really love about Denton.”

Witnessing Denton’s growth, even if it’s just the birth of a new radio station, has always meant a lot to Quenette over the years. The special connections he makes due to the constant growth are part of what makes the city so special to him.

Growing up, the Arlington native was never sure of what he wanted to pursue as a career. Having traveled to and from Denton often to visit friends, Quenette appeased his parents by enrolling at UNT as an undecided major in 1995. He graduated seven years later with a degree in media arts debt-free thanks to the jobs he worked while he was in school. He worked at KNTU radio, where he was hired — and fired — twice.

“I slept in, so they let me go,” Quenette said. “Which was good because it’s a good real-life experience. You have to show up to your job on time.”

After college, Quenette still was indecisive about his career, but he knew where he wanted to live.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet,” he said. “But I knew I wanted to stay in Denton.”

Quenette worked many jobs to save up enough money to travel across the country. To this day, Quenette has racked up a total of 21,064 miles traveled, but he always finds his way back to Denton. He hasn’t traveled since 2011, content with staying where people always know and accept him. He works multiple jobs around town, allowing him to hang out with friends and customers while making enough money to live in Denton comfortably.

Quenette’s coworkers Charlie Moore and Kurt Vanzandt enjoy his hiking stories and his “townie” nature.

“Matt is the type of guy who is up for doing things that are unique,” Moore said. “He is confident and has a lot of interesting experience.”

So when you see someone in a gray T-shirt, light blue jeans and a thick beard walking around the Square or constantly popping up at places you frequent, stop and say hi. He’s the friend you haven’t met yet — Denton’s man about town.

Featured Image: Matt Quenette is a manager at Aura Coffee and Dan’s Silverleaf. He is determined to never leave Denton. Paige Bruneman

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Banin Fatima

Banin Fatima

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