Archive for Thursday, October 18, 2007

Downtown coffee shop serving up art with java

October 18, 2007

What once was an open spot on a large wooden table at Coffee Talk cafe and fine art in downtown Eudora, now is filled with a green hedge apple cat.

Sandy Garrett, a former artist for Hallmark Cards, donated the craft Monday after she visited the newly opened shop at 724 Main St.

"It's kind of a fun thing for people," Garrett said.

Garrett's cat joins sculptures, paintings and jewelry strewn throughout the cafe.

All the items are the creations of local or regional artists.

"I love people, I love art and I always wanted to do something like this," said DeeAnn Alvarez, who owns the shop with her husband, David.

The couple decided to open the cafe after three of their six children went away to college. The business gives DeeAnn something to do and provides the couple more time to spend together.

The couple snatched up the downtown location when it became available, David said.

The wooden floors and tin ceiling fit the "cozy" atmosphere he was looking for when he imagined a coffee shop, he said.

He and DeeAnn also saw an opportunity to fill a void in a town with no coffee shops.

In addition to selling art, the shop offers several blends of coffee, free wireless Internet and baked goods.

"It's something we've done in six weeks, literally," DeeAnn said.

The whirlwind preparation accomplished with the help of friends included newly painted walls, refinished floors and weeks of refitting the location to their specifications. The couple even had a custom mosaic installed near the front entrance.

The Alvarezes provided a sneak preview Oct. 6 during EudoraFest and then opened for good Saturday.

"It's been great," David said of business at the cafe named for one of his favorite Saturday Night Live skits.

The couple hasn't had any problems finding artists to display their work.

The current displays feature everything from driftwood stick figure sculptures by Eudora High School art teacher Gary Hinman to intricately decorated gourds by Kathy Brecheisen and watercolor landscapes by Alice Kuo.

"We wanted a store that had a lot of different styles of art," David said.

The more people visit, the more pieces come in.

"We just couldn't believe in Eudora or in close proximity there were so many amazing artists," David said.

Several pieces already have sold since opening, DeeAnn said.

The shop's artistic scope could expand further each first and third Saturday of the month. On those dates, DeeAnn and David plan to extend the hours to 8 p.m. and have bi-monthly acoustic concerts.

The space also is available for meetings, David said.

Studying at the shop Monday, Eudora High School seniors Krystal Klebenstein and Ashley Burns gave the shop nods of approval.

"This is the best shop in town," Klebenstein said.

The shop's location drew Burns.

"It's nice to not have to go to Lawrence to get a good cup of coffee," she said.

The cafe is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

For more information about the shop, call (785) 690-7711.

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