Ralph Denick isn't sure his modest coffee shop can handle the biggest act in its history.

Ralph Denick isn't sure his modest coffee shop can handle the biggest act in its history.

Java Central, found in the heart of Uptown at 20 S. State St., hosts a myriad of quality local acts, from singer-songwriters to Otterbein or Westerville high school students and even the occasional larger-named area musician.

But the highest-profile act since Denick became co-owner of the shop in 2009 just happened to fall into his lap this summer.

When he got a call from someone calling himself Byron Stripling, Denick rolled his eyes.

"I said, 'OK, who is this?' " he recalled. "I thought I was being punked, as they say."

He was not being punked. Unknown to Denick, Stripling, director of the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and aninternationally recognized trumpet player, lives just a few minutes from the shop. Stripling was working on some new material and was hoping to play it at the "intimate setting" offered at Java Central.

Before long, the pair were working out details in emails. Stripling would write, "Hi Ralph, it's Byron."

"Like I didn't know who Byron was," Denick laughed.

So on Saturday, Aug. 29, the Uptown coffee shop will host Stripling and jazz pianist Bobby Floyd from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Denick is expecting a crowd, especially among those who know jazz.

"People are already asking me how early they should get here," he said. "I don't want people camping out at 3 p.m."

Denick says he'll fit as many people as he can inside, and will put a speaker outside so more can enjoy the music from the brick pathway with seating on the south side of the shop.

Denick won't be charging a cover to come see the show, but will accept donations throughout the night to help pay Stripling and Floyd.

"I don't like to charge covers," he said. "I think it precludes some people from being able to come."

And while Denick has been committed to giving quality acts a chance for years, he hopes the show will give visitors a chance to see that there's more to Java Central than coffee.

"We're one of the top coffee shops around; that's the heart of our business," he said. "But the art and the music, that's our soul."

For more information, visit java-central.com