Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wake Up Call

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2008 at 1:52 PM

I jumped the gun this morning, but I couldn't wait to get to Crema, the new coffee shop opening on Rutledge Hill. Owner Rachel Lehman wasn't exactly expecting us—Crema will open its doors for a soft launch starting tomorrow at 7 a.m.—but she very graciously let Mr. Pink and me snoop through the store, which is fashionably decked in equal parts chic and salvage and looks like someone stained it in a rich bath of dark-roast espresso.

With sumptuous leather chairs, a long bar made of rustic wooden beams, amber pendant lighting and colorful canvases adorning the walls, Crema promises to become a caffeinated landmark in the newly emerging Rutledge Hill district, where Andrew Chadwick's restaurant and the recently renovated Children's Theatre—not to mention all the downtown residential projects—are suddenly luring folks who've never even heard of the once-neglected neighborhood.

This morning Rachel was arranging the first batch of muffins and biscotti fresh from The Wild Muffin bakery and waiting on deliveries from Provence and Star Bagel. The only thing missing was the hiss of the La Marzocco and the aroma of the espresso drinks, which will be made with Drew's Brews.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the curtain from Crema, there's a vacant space of equal size, just screaming out for a tenant—something along the lines of a bookstore or gallery—to complement the coffee shop. If you have any ideas of businesses that could fill the space, post them to Bites. In the meantime, Rachel and Ben Lehman will just have to accept our compliments on a very attractive new enterprise.

Lcoated at 15 Hermitage Ave., 255-8311, Crema opens officially on Jan. 28 and will donate a portion of the day's proceeds to Safe Haven, a nonprofit organization in the neighborhood that assists homeless families.

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