UPDATE: Happy news! Streetcar Cafe is absolutely open for business. To paraphrase Mark Twain: Reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated. Here's a link to its Facebook page to keep you abreast of all the coffee shop's news.
UPDATE 12-08-2015 2:06 pm: The Streetcar Cafe closed this past Saturday. The Richmond Free Press reports, “The closure of the current coffee shop came after Nehemiah [Community Development Corp.] terminated the month-to-month lease under which Sean and Kirsa Crippen were operating the shop that they had begun with so much promise.”
Nehemiah received $120,000 in city-funded grants and $30,000 in donations to buy and renovate the building. The adjoining bike repair shop remains open, albeit in limited operation.
Derek McDaniels, president of Nehemiah, is looking for another tenant for the space.
05-12-2015: Streetcar Cafe to Bring a Caffeine Kick to North Side
Derek McDaniel, a towering man in a sports jacket and cap, walks down Brookland Park Boulevard on the North Side, greeting each person he passes.
He knows every business owner along this retail strip that he hopes to help revive. Originally a streetcar stop, the area was thriving before it went into a decline in the 1950s and slowly filled with vacant storefronts and small businesses precariously hanging on.
McDaniel wants to change that. Through the nonprofit, Nehemiah Community Development Corp., that he founded with his wife, Cybelle, he plans to renovate commercial buildings and bring in much-needed goods and services to the area. With a $90,000 grant from the city, the group has taken its first step.
“We held a series of community meetings to see what the community wanted — what it needed,” McDaniel says. Overwhelmingly, neighbors said that they wanted a coffee shop — a place that didn’t serve alcohol but was a place to spot friends. Nehemiah purchased 10 E. Brookland Park Blvd. and began renovations.
A bike repair shop will go next to it, although it isn’t the kind of store you’d expect at first glance. Connected by large doors to the coffee shop next door, it’s a place that will provide tools and expertise to help customers fix their own bikes — at a much lower cost than a typical repair shop.
It’s needed, McDaniel says. “Bikes here are used to get from point A to point B. They aren’t used for recreation.”
To get the coffee shop up and running, McDaniel joined forces with Lamplighter Roasting Co., which will provide the coffee and training for the shop’s new baristas. Lamplighter co-owner Jennifer Rawlings says the neighborhood has “garnered this beautiful momentum that cannot be ignored.”
The shop, named the Streetcar Café, will be run by Sean and Kirsa Crippen and will serve sandwiches and pastries in addition to coffee drinks. McDaniel also wants to provide curbside service — you’ll be able to call ahead and have your order brought directly to your car when you pull up in front.
The Streetcar Café is slated to open in June. “The neighborhood needs this,” McDaniel says. “We want to hold poetry readings and have live music and a place for meetings. We want to engage the entire community.”