The Orbit Room switched to an all ages venue on June 2. The restaurant will invite people of all ages until 8 p.m. and will continue to cater to individuals ages 21+ after that time.
The Orbit Room currently opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 1 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday, but co-owners Mike Klinge and Katie Novotny said they plan to open at 4 p.m. by the end of the summer.
After a year of talking about their plan, Klinge and Novotny made steps to legally allow people under 21 into their business. Novotny said their usual audience is people between ages 25-45, and a lot of those people have kids.
“I’ve overheard lots of people in my community and friends talk about how there’s really nothing for under 21 year olds to do, because it's such a college town,” she said. “There's nowhere for young kids or teenagers to go see live music.”
With a pinball machine and kid-friendly food items on their menu, Novotny said she thinks The Orbit Room is a good place for kids.
“There’s nowhere for them to see live music, there’s nowhere for them to be a part of cool fundraisers or community events in general and nowhere for them just to go hang out,” Novotny said. “We’re really set up to be that.”
The Orbit Room has done fundraisers for nonprofit organizations in town, such as Girls Rock Bloomington. Novotny said The Orbit Room would be a place for the venue to showcase talent of people under 21 years old.
Novotny and Klinge said they have friends who teach and who want their students to watch them perform. Some who teach songwriting and poetry have talked about the excitement of having a reading or recital for the students.
Klinge said they plan to book musicians catering to younger individuals earlier in the evening and musicians who cater to adults later in the night. Klinge and Novotny said they want to bring new musicians into their business.
Klinge said Indiana laws are strict, making people choose between kid venues and adult venues. Making their business all ages has made it more inclusive, he said.
The reason they opened The Orbit Room was to cater to the music community, and Novotny said they’re providing kids with a place to be involved.
“We’re filling a niche market for what needs to happen in Bloomington,” Novotny said.
On June 24, The Orbit Room will celebrate the change with a performance from Glitter Brains, a punk rock band made of early childhood teachers. Klinge said their songs cater to both punk fans and kids. Later that same night, PSYCHIC, a guitar duo, will also perform.
Mike McAfee, Visit Bloomington executive director, said there aren’t many all-ages music venues in Bloomington, and it’s something the town needs.
“Mike and Katie do a great job with the variety of stuff that they bring, and they’re just going to build the family music and kids music right into it,” McAfee said.
After Rhino’s Youth Center, an all ages music venue, and Max’s Place, a pizza place featuring family music, closed, McAfee said Bloomington lost a place for teenagers to go.
Mallory Benoit, guitarist for rock band The Matriarch, said she wants to play at an all-ages venue for her underage family members. As soon as they schedule an all ages show, she said she’ll call her sister.
“We loved getting the vegan hotdogs, and then they just kept adding all this really good food to their menu,” she said. “The atmosphere is so good to hang out, regardless of having a drink.”