Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 2, Page 7
Hey, Jude!

     Back in the days when the founding fathers were hammering out
their declaration of freedom, firebrands met at taverns along Second
Street in Philadelphia. Today, that street's convivial spirit lives on
at Serrano, an international home-cooking restaurant, with the Tin
Angel, an acoustic music cafe, upstairs. The establishment is co-owned
by Jude Erwin, Delaware '75.
     "Owning and running a restaurant is similar to working in
theatre," says Erwin, who holds a degree in technical theatre from the
University. "The lights and the room are set in a certain way. The
actors are your servers, and their job is to get out there and make
sure the people have a good time. The curtain rises at 5:30 every
night, and you have a checklist of things that must be done before
people walk in the door and take their seats."
     Erwin became involved in stage management while a student at
Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington, Del. At the University, she
first focused on stage management and lighting design, later becoming
property manager and stage manager during her final year. Moving to
Boston after graduation, she toured with a small theatre company, the
Boston Arts Group, that was producing Tales of Mother Goose.
     "We used to travel around in an old, beat-up van with the stage
sets," she recalls. "I was in laundromats every other day washing the
costumes. I loved it. But, when you're in theatre, you learn early on
to support yourself in some other way. So, I did restaurant work."
     Rising to the position of technical director with the Boston Arts
Group, Erwin worked in summer theatre at the Hasty Pudding Theatre for
a few years. When she moved to Philadelphia in 1980, she found the
theatre business slow, so she managed a couple of Philadelphia
restaurants. Five years later, a friend from Boston, Rich Machlin,
found the "perfect restaurant" for them in Old City Philadelphia.
     "We started preparing international dinners. It helped get
attention back then because there weren't as many ethnic eating places
as there are today. We capitalized on Serrano's warm, bistro
atmosphere, with its fireplace and wood stove," Erwin says.
     Two years ago, the pair established the acoustic music club in
the restaurant's renovated upstairs, hoping to recreate the atmosphere
of such legendary Philadelphia-area music clubs as the Main Point, the
Second Fret and the Bijou Cafe.
     The stage of the Tin Angel sits near the far end of a long,
narrow room that holds about 100 people. The club offers gourmet
coffees, cappuccinos, teas and desserts, as well as a bar.
     "It scared me to go into the music club business," says Erwin,
"but there seemed to be a real need for an acoustic music club. We
thought there would be enough people our age who would like to hear
good music without getting their eardrums blown out."
     More than 200 acts have been featured at the Tin Angel since its
opening, including Richie Havens, Livingston Taylor and Laura Nyro and
up-and-comers Susan Werner, Greg Brown and Sara Hickman. After their
shows, many of the artists mingle with the crowd.
     So, what's the best thing about running a successful restaurant
and music club? "I'm happy and I'm making a living," says Erwin. "It's
like having people over to your house-the living room theory-and
people pick up on that. And the best part is that it's different every
night. You never know what to expect, just like the theatre."
                                                         -Terry Conway