Brookhaven will host a new Art Café – Daily Leader
A new art cafe is coming to Brookhaven.
In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the City Council of Aldermen approved the sale of the property located at 117 North Railroad Ave. – the former Whistlestop Motorcycle Parts & Accessories – to Ethridge Investments LLC.
The company plans to repair and renovate the existing building and open the Whistle Stop Art Café.
The local business will be founded on Christian principles, according to documents submitted to the city. The cafe is intended to create jobs for the local arts and provide a creative and affordable outlet for the community. Owners Rickey and Cecily LaRue Ethridge will work with local ministries to organize faith-based events, as well as local art exhibitions and galleries.
According to Cecily Ethridge, the main source of income from the cafe will come from hosting parties and arts events, such as children’s birthdays, adult wine and painting parties, and pottery and sculpture classes.
“Children’s parties will include pottery painting and cupcake decorating, while adult events will consist of canvas paintings and wine – optional cupcakes,” Ethridge said.
Classes will include pottery spinning, quilting, embroidery, watercolor painting, charcoal and coffee drawing, sewing, crochet / knitting and flower arrangement.
Organized events will include birthdays and end-of-year parties, sip and paint nights, door hanger parties and galleries by local artists.
“Adults are encouraged to bring their own drinks, while glasses, bottle openers and all party essentials are provided by the Art Café,” said Ethridge. “We will have a refrigerated section stocked with your favorite meats, cheeses and fresh fruits, plus delicious cheesecakes from our local cheesecake master. These stylish charcuterie boards and gorgeous cheesecakes are available to purchase during the holidays or as a take out option.
The business will also include “AV Ethridge,” an eclectic store featuring “only the most unique, beautiful and handmade items in town. These are items you can’t buy on Amazon that are made here in America, some here in Brookhaven.
Ethridge said she hopes that creating a new space for art will increase the value of the city’s culture and entertainment, and that an adjacent art park will give it a boost as well.
The Art Park will be an outdoor space made available to the community free of charge. The space will feature locally created works of art, such as handcrafted pottery and wind chimes, butterfly gardens and water fountains. Local health and mental health coaches will be encouraged to take advantage of the space.
The park will be 0.4 miles from the Mississippi School of the Arts, or about an 8-minute walk or 3-minute bike ride. It will be located 0.2 mile from the Amtrak Station / Godbold Transportation Center – approximately a 4 minute walk or 1 minute bike ride.
“Art is a vast subject with its own language, history and authorities, and that can seem overwhelming,” Ethridge said. “But even without this knowledge, there can be something deep about our connection to a work of art. When you look at a painting, you may or may not feel a connection. You might be inspired or bored, appreciate or despise. This is why The Art Café is inclusive – anyone with or without art training is welcome.
The ten-year plan for the building is to build lofts on the second and third levels above the café.
The community of Brookhaven is comprised of many artists, and many of them have full-time jobs unrelated to the arts. They need an outlet for their creativity, and Ethridge said she wanted to give them one.
Ethridge, a lawyer, said that although she is not very artistic, her two sisters are, just like their mother, Amy Brister LaRue. Teaching for more than four decades at the Enterprise Attendance Center, LaRue died the day after his retirement in 2021.
“You still think you have time to learn her skills, but she passed away unexpectedly so we couldn’t do it,” Ethridge said. “I wanted her to teach me how to do embroidery, et cetera. I don’t know how to do this. You know, a lot of southerners, we like a good monogram or an applique ‘. So we wanted to offer a place to have lessons on it. We need this at Brookhaven. Brookhaven is a great place for that sort of thing.
The Ethridge’s hope to open the cafe as a vacation spot by early 2023.