Big Bear Cafe
By Katie Prevost, DC North
Jul 31, 2006, 08:07
Change is all around. It doesn’t take long for even a newcomer to the District to see this city’s ongoing face lift. A new restaurant opens its doors, another condo takes up an old parking lot, and that big retail chain that exists everywhere but DC has finally arrived. Yet, the excitement of all this activity lacks a vital component that the Big Bear Café is chock-full of, uniqueness. Located at the corner of 1st and R Streets, at 1700 1st St., NW, the Big Bear Café has not officially opened its doors but is already creating quite a buzz. Sketched out to be a local café serving up wonderfully brewed coffee and hosting art, cultural events and music, this future café promises to be the most creative venue Bloomingdale has possibly ever seen.
What makes the Big Bear Café an incredible story is the path it took and is still traveling to bring the local community together, bring passions together, and create an environment that holds a deeper meaning. Previously one of several liquor stores located within the same few blocks, the café’s building was just another scrubby, falling apart, alcohol mart. Owners Stu Davenport and his fiancée Lana, recent newcomers to the area, saw the potential for this eyesore. The couple agreed it was a shame that a community filled with so much local talent and ingenuity should be plagued with no meeting place to get to know each other better. The combination of wanting to create community and help revive a dilapidated building brought the pair, originally from the West Coast (and accustomed to community based centers, coffee shops, and positive neighborhood harmony), to buy the old liquor store.
Already hosting cooler soirees than any hipsters could pull off in Brooklyn, NY, the Big Bear Café has been the venue for events like the Corcoran School of Art graduate students showcasing interior design plans for the future café, hoedowns with local deejays spinning, art exhibits for local artists, and neighborhood gatherings. While it is still undergoing construction and renovation for its future status as a coffee shop, ideas are percolating about all the possibilities such a space could hold. And in the meantime, graffiti artists have adorned the walls with spectacular artwork, jazz musicians have serenaded the spacious interior, and visitors have stopped in to voice their ideas on the final concept of the café. The couple also posts updates on their website of upcoming events, and they are interested in all design ideas for their space. Lovers of art, music, and coffee are welcome to let them know their thoughts too. While the final concept is still to be determined, there is one thing that is certain; they will be serving delicious coffee in what will surely be a creative atmosphere. Check out the Big Bear Café’s website at www.bigbearcafe-dc.com
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