About SPNA

The Sylvan Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) is the collective community voice for addressing neighborhood issues such as zoning, security, beautification, traffic, metropolitan services, and environment.

SPNA members meet on the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Senior Renaissance Center of Cohn Adult Learning Center at 4805 Park Avenue.

About Sylvan Park

Welcome to Sylvan Park! We hope you love this neighborhood as much as we do. Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for newcomers to learn more.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Thistle Stop Café: A Story in Every Cup

Thistle Stop Cafe on opening day, May 24 (Photo Credit: Erin Lee)

Chances are you’ve driven by one of the newest additions to our neighborhood a dozen times in the past few months without noticing it’s there. The Thistle Stop Café opened at the end of May. It sits at the corner of 52nd and Charlotte, and it anchors the corner of the Thistle Farms building.  That building also houses the non-profit’s offices, bath and body care manufacturing facility, and paper-making and sewing studios. The space is part café, part restaurant and part community-gathering place. The café is run by four graduates and residents of Magdalene, women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction.

“I have seen a complete transformation. This is their café,” said Courtney Johnson, who manages the Thistle Stop Café. “The community has built it, they helped build it, and they take pride in everything that they do here because it’s an opportunity for them to prove to themselves as well as the community that they are special. It’s an inspiration to be here and work with them on a daily basis. It means the world to them. They love their jobs and they love making coffee and making the food.”

The space used to be an old beauty school, but thanks to hundreds of volunteer hours and efforts from around the globe, the Thistle Stop Café has new life. The floors are made of 150-year-old pine from Al Gore Sr.’s tobacco warehouse in Carthage, Tennessee. And besides the teacups used for actual service, you’ll see hundreds of teacups made into chandeliers.

Teacup chandeliers (Photo Credit: Erin Lee)
“Becca Stevens, who founded Magdalene House and Thistle Farms, started asking people around the country to donate their teacups and bring a story with them. Some people sent boxes or one with a story on how this teacup survived Germany in WWII, or Ray Romano sent a teacup that he autographed,” explained Johnson. “We have teacups from all over the world: Ireland, South Africa, Brazil. We collected close to 800 teacups, if not more, and we had all these stories that went along with them. So we said we need to display them to integrate them into the design of the café. So we made teacup chandeliers, and they’re over the tables so people can admire them and see them.”

In keeping with the spirit of reusing and repurposing, reclaimed wood counters and cabinets were handmade by inmates at the Turney Center Industrial Prison.

“I went to pick the cabinets up myself in a U-Haul and had to drive into prison to get these cabinets,” said Johnson, laughing at the memory. “I met the men who built these and they were just so proud of their work, and it was really inspiring.

Employee (Photo Credit: Erin Lee)
The Thistle Stop Cafe sells Nashville-based and fair-trade coffees, teas and healthy catered foods. Johnson said their food and bakery items are a collaborative effort from artisans around Nashville, including Arnold Myint, D’Lish by Desiree, Vegan Vee, Dozen Bakery and Chef Ann Marie Drake.

“It was surreal, the night before we opened. At 9 p.m. we were just looking at everything and I was just kind of amazed at how many people came together to make this happen,” said Johnson. “It wasn’t just 20 people, it was hundreds. It was kids coming from their spring break to prime and paint the walls, big church groups that came to do work days. Then there was a core group of dedicated people that spent every weekend here. It moved me to tears to see an entire space that an entire community built to bring healing to these women and the community in general. It was incredible.”

Monday through Friday, 7-2 p.m.

Also open as a venue for private events. If interested contact Courtney@thistlefarms.org.

Starting October 17, the café will begin “Thistle Thursdays,” hosting a nighttime music event from 6-9 p.m. serving coffee and tea.

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