Caffè Lena is widely recognized as the oldest continuously operating folk music venue in the United States. This little Caffè with humble beginnings is both grand and simple. The Library of Congress calls Caffè Lena “An American treasure,” and we have been recognized by The GRAMMY Foundation for our important contributions to the development of American music. Yet we are proud to stay true to Lena’s founding vision of simplicity, kindness to strangers, and art above profit.
The Caffè Lena you see today operates as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. In 2016 we began a $2 million renovation of our 19th century building in Saratoga’s historic downtown. The transformation, completed in 2017, guarantees a home for Lena’s celebrated programming for decades to come, creates 100% handicap-accessibility to our second floor performance space, and brings the listener and artist experience in line with the club’s international reputation.
Opened in a former woodworking shop in 1960, the café has helped to launch many of America’s best loved songwriters, ranging from Bob Dylan in 1961 to Sawyer Fredericks in 2014, with an amazing “who’s who” list in between.
Upon the passing of founder Lena Nargi Spencer in 1989, Caffè Lena was converted to a non-profit institution supported by concert revenue, private and corporate donors, grants and bequests, and an ever-evolving team of volunteers.
In keeping with Lena’s devotion to presenting deserving talent regardless of fame, our diverse programming sets the stage for musical discovery year ’round. We invite you to come up to a room where your faith in the power of music will be renewed. You’ll see a world-class performer only feet away; watch every movement of fingers on frets, and feel in your heart the foot tapping rhythm on the stage.