Before, the group might have been socializing at the Woodpile Carvings and Café on Main Street, which closed last autumn.
Elizabeth Brown, former owner of the Woodpile, recently became the managing director and curator of the Rossignol Cultural Centre and decided to move her coffee beans and carving tools up the street and around the corner.
Brown began business about three weeks ago.
“It’s been a soft opening,” she says.
She didn’t want to spread the word until she knew what she needed to do to make the space accessible and ready for customers.
“I just decided I have to be here all day anyway, and I can do my work on my laptop at this end of the building as easily as the other, I might as well have people coming and going,” says Brown.
She had the tables and equipment so figured why not set it up, adds Brown about her decision to open the café.
“So Sherman (Hines) came down and spent an entire day cleaning out the English room that had all the antique furniture in it and set up all my tables for me,” says Brown.
Hines is the spearhead behind the idea to reestablish the centre and put it on the track it had been going.
Brown says another reason for the café is she believes the space should be used.
“It needs to be occupied. It needs to have people coming and going,” she says.
She adds for a place to be welcomed and supported by the community, people have to use it.
The café is Brown’s first step in making the centre accessible so it feels like part of the community.
“I want the grounds to be inviting, and I want people to use them,” she says.
She says she would also like to open as much of the grounds as possible. Brown and Hines have to determine how to keep the collection safe while also figuring out what’s good for the neighbourhood.
“It’s a huge hunk of property on the middle of Church Street that should belong to the people who live on Church Street and every other street close by,” she says.
Brown says people are slowly finding her café, including some of her former Woodpile customers. She says it’s easy for people to park their cars, and because there’s no lunch rush, people can hang out as long as she is open.
Collections Café is open from Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the off-season. Customers can gain access through the side door to the left of the main entrance. People can also get to the café through the library. Beginning around mid May, Brown says she’ll stay open until 5 p.m.
All the drinks Brown made at the Woodpile are available at Collections, but she doesn’t serve food.
Besides the new coffee space, there are a lot of other things happening at the centre, says Brown.
“We’ve offered to be the coffee critique site for the theatre festival,” she says.
This is where people gather the morning after a show to discuss what they have seen.
With a canoe festival slated for July, Brown says she’s hoping to gather canoe enthusiasts and display the centre’s antique and modern canoes.
“We’re hoping to attract some trades people to showcase what they offer, and we’re also hoping that we’ll see some artisans,” says Brown.
She says she would love to hear from anyone interested. The festival is set for sometime at the end of July.
Another thing Brown says she would like to do is emphasize the centre’s folk-art and carving collections, which she says might involve having a festival or showcase in the autumn.
Finally, Brown says there’s a show booked with the Studio Art Quilt Association. The association has a number of chapters under its umbrella. A Maritime show called Rooted is set to be at the Rossignol Cultural Centre in the Laing Art Gallery from the beginning of August until mid September.
The Rossignol Cultural Centre has four board members, and Brown says more people are welcome to join.
“It’s a group of people that have a wide variety of experiences and some really great ideas about fundraising and creating a sustainable museum,” she says.
Brown says the centre is another asset to Liverpool worth the investment and time, and she hopes community members will become involved.