Cool Kids Vinyl “is a capsule into not just that golden era of hip-hop in the early ’80s and ’90s, but just a capsule of Black culture as well, which I think is really important being on H Street,” says founder Matthew Talley.
Before opening Cool Kids Vinyl at Maketto on Sept. 1, the 28-year-old Talley was a fixture of the local music community, interning for D.C. rap superstar Wale before founding the hip-hop event series Diggin Thru the Crates in 2015 with DJ Alizay. Attendees had the chance to dig through crates of records and request the DJ to play a song from the record of their choice, paving the way to Cool Kids Vinyl’s aesthetic.
“It was really putting people in a time capsule of that teenager that loves hip-hop and was almost like an insight to their world,” Talley says.
He initially envisioned Cool Kids Vinyl as a stand-alone bricks-and-mortar shop until the pandemic hit. It was then that Talley, who works as a daytime manager at Maketto, got an enticing offer from his boss, chef Erik Bruner-Yang: Instead of leasing out an entire space, why not have the shop on Maketto’s second floor instead?
Now, in addition to Maketto’s upstairs cafe, guests can dig through records and beam themselves back to ’80s and ’90s pop culture at Cool Kids Vinyl’s lounge. TVs play old VHS tapes of such classics as “Austin Powers” or old-school Martin Lawrence stand-up. The shop also has a treasure trove of Black literature that includes Complex magazines from the early 2000s and Ebony magazines from the ’70s.
When he’s not at Maketto, Talley would use his dream day to immerse himself in nature instead of records.
I would wake up around 6 a.m. and play basketball for an hour at a local park in my neighborhood. I try to put up 100 shots at least. Then, I would take a shower and go to South Block at Union Market to either get a smoothie or bowl. The PBJ Bowl is probably the best way to start your morning — an amazing acai bowl. Union Market’s rooftop is also amazing. If you need a good happy hour spot, a good lunch date spot, or you want to watch the sun go down, Union Market’s rooftop is very, very good.
Then I would go to the Reach at the Kennedy Center with my dog. It’s an open space that’s good if you want to go for a walk or a place to sit somewhere and picnic. That’s one of the better places to do it. One of our chefs for the company cooks barbecue and, I believe, Mediterranean food at the Reach, too.
The U.S. National Arboretum is just a historic, refreshing space. It’s crazy because outside of the park isn’t the most beautiful space in the city. It’s almost like you’re in your own bubble being there while walking through or driving through. For me, being in the time of covid-19, just connecting with nature, being around trees, being in the grass, it’s something that I value a bit more.
Then I would go to Rock Creek Park and just ride my bike through it. I could literally spend an entire afternoon going through Rock Creek Park. Getting that good sunlight and exercise in without having to spend any money is an experience in and of itself because it’s so hard to go out in the city and not spend money.
To end my day, I’d go to either Brookland’s Finest or ABC Pony, Maketto’s sister restaurant in Southeast. The lumpia at ABC Pony is probably the best starter. The food, which is Italian with a kind of Cambodian twist, changes every week and they have new specials every week. The new chef there, Chef Armani Johnson, keeps a very creative menu. They have good breakfast doughnuts, and the cocktails made by Rob Stokes are good, too.