Today, we welcome Jennifer Johnston as she tells us all why we need to hop on over to Charlotte Pike and check out Thistle Stop Cafe.
The healing power of love is behind the newest social enterprise in town, Thistle Stop Café at 5128 Charlotte Pike.
The Café was created with the loving hands of numerous volunteers. It represents both a nurturing space and a potential path to financial independence for the women who work there. For anyone who stops by for coffee, tea, breakfast or lunch, the care and energy bound up in the light, airy space provides a soothing sanctuary from the hustle and bustle just outside the door.
The beautiful faces of the Magdalene women and volunteer helpers in bright aprons immediately greet you as your eye is drawn from the case of tasty sandwich and salad selections to the teacup chandeliers throughout the room, created from donated china by artist James Worsham.
Underfoot is gorgeous wood plank flooring salvaged from Al Gore Sr.’s old warehouse, thanks to Southern Reclaimed Wood. Inviting reclaimed tables dotted with potted herbs invite a catch-up chat with a dear friend. On a pretty day, seating is available in an outdoor courtyard.
The food is prepared fresh daily by some of Nashville’s best chefs and restaurants, from Arnold Myint of PM and blvd to Spark of Life, Vegan Vee and Dozen Bakery. The menu includes a delicious assortment of wraps and salads.
“With the theme of ‘a story in every cup,’ Thistle Stop Café is the next step in creating a community of hospitality and love that will nourish everyone who thirsts for justice as well as a great cup of tea,” according to Becca Stevens, the founder and inspiration behind Magdalene, Thistle Farms and the new Café. Six residents and graduates of Magdalene work in the Café.
Founded by Becca, an Episcopal priest on Vanderbilt’s campus, Magdalene is a two-year residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. The women create natural body care products through Thistle Farms, available in the Café. (And, they are handmade in the space right next door!)
Even the coffee and tea sold in the shop supports other local social enterprise organizations. Products from Just Love Coffee, Café Femenino and Humphreys Street Coffee Co. are among the items available for purchase, along with Thistle Stop Café blend.
After enjoying your time in the Café, take a short walk through the peaceful urban garden oasis created by landscape architect Tara Armistead on just a sliver of land by the parking lot. Don’t miss the amazing rain catcher created by Ben Caldwell, known for his beautiful copper artistry (although this is made of aluminum and welded by a nearby auto body shop).
The Café, just one more entry on the list of majorly cool developments in this area of Charlotte Pike, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parking is ample. The space, with a capacity for 94 people, also is available for events or benefits. Contact [email protected] for more information or call 615-298-1140.
Editor’s note: This post is lovingly dedicated to Lisa Dawn Granoien Froeb. Lisa, 52, was killed in a rockslide this past Friday, May 31st, while hiking with friends in Utah. She was a devoted wife, mother, athlete and volunteer. Among her many passions was Magdalene, where she served as a tireless volunteer and board member, leading with grace and humility. “We will gather and remember Lisa often in the Café she helped build,” said Becca.
Lisa attended the Thistle Stop Café grand opening on May 24, just prior to leaving on the hiking trip. That one of her last acts was one of dedication to the community she loved is an example for all of us. Said her friend, Kay West, “No fear, no vanity, no drama, no agenda, no love greater than Lisa had for her family, friends, earth and humans and animals in need.”
What are the lessons to be learned from the loss of a person known for being truly present and humble and real with each person she met? Fellow Magdalene volunteer Carole Hagan may have said it best in a Facebook tribute to Lisa, “Now we have to follow her lead. We can promise to be more like Lisa: compassionate and loyal and fiercely dedicated to serving others.” Love heals is the theme for Thistle Farms and an appropriate one for times like these. We send a fervent wish that the Froeb family will feel Lisa’s presence in the community’s embrace.
Let the healing begin.
–Jennifer Johnston is a Nashville-based freelance writer and editor