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New on-the-square restaurant Graffiti Pasta keeps the Ol’ Dirty Basement running

New on-the-square restaurant Graffiti Pasta keeps the Ol’ Dirty Basement running

New on-the-square restaurant Graffiti Pasta keeps the Ol’ Dirty Basement running
October 22
16:00 2021

A new restaurant called Graffiti Pasta will open in the location on the square once occupied by J&J’s Pizza, keeping the Ol’ Dirty Basement music venue alive.

Graffiti Pasta was originally set to open in November, but owner Anthony Morel said the business faced complications because the building had not been kept up to code. The new restaurant is now expected to open in early January.

The restaurant will be opening with a variety of pasta options, as well as salads and paninis.

“I’m excited to share that Italian culture and my family’s flavor with Denton for sure,” Morel said.

One of the things Graffiti Pasta will continue is the Ol’ Dirty Basement, a venue under the now-closed J&J’s Pizza that became a staple in the Denton music scene.

“I don’t know how much success they will have with filling the void that J&J’s left because I know pretty much everyone in Denton had a lot of respect for the venue and the people who owned it,” said Carter Kegan, a musician in local band Bad Dad Jokes.

This sentiment was echoed by multiple Denton citizens, Morel said. As a result, Graffiti Pasta will be keeping the venue similar to how it was before J&J’s closed. Morel will keep the basement’s “guerrilla-style” and have both open mic music and set acts.

“The only thing we are doing in the basement, and you won’t even be able to tell, is we are upgrading the sound system a little bit,” Morel said.

Because the restaurant is keeping the basement as it was, Graffiti Pasta manager Justin Foster is hopeful the venue will be able to carry on as if nothing has changed.

“We want to keep it as open as it was and I don’t think the booking is going to be an issue at all,” Foster said.

One notable change is what other events the Ol’ Dirty Basement will host besides musical performances. Morel plans to book more than just music in the basement but said he is receptive to how the community will feel about it.

“It’s just kind of throwing things at the wall and see what sticks,” Morel said. “We might bring in an event like a magic show or silent disco or something, and the community might be like ‘that sucks, don’t ever do that again’ […] and we won’t,” Morel said.

First impressions from some Denton community members seem optimistic about the venue opening its space to more than just musicians.

“They want to keep moving art in new directions for public consumption [and] I think that’s real cool that they pursue that stuff,” Kegan said. “I love going to comedy shows, I love going to art shows [and] movie night sounds fun. I’m all about it.”

To Graffiti Pasta, a focus within exploring the basement outside of a music venue is making sure the community is taking the lead and using the space for whatever it needs. Morel is interested in going deep into the art community, including giving canvases to Denton artists to make “pasta art” that will be hung up.

“Everybody and anybody could come to us with an idea and, 90 percent of the time, we’re going to find a way to execute it and see how it does,” Morel said.

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Daniel Herrera

Daniel Herrera

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