Monday, September 8, 2014

@ Gypsy Beans & Bakery in Cleveland's Gordon Square Arts District

Hold The Coffee ventures back to the west side of Cleveland this week as it highlights a coffee shop in the Gordon Square Arts District.

In case you can't read it, which I know you can't, Shauna's
T-shirt reads "I <3 BSR," as in Black Squirrel Radio, a
Kent State-based online radio channel. I <3 student media.
Since launching the blog nearly 10 months ago, a few of my friends have urged me to visit Gypsy Beans and Bakery, a sweet and coffee destination in between the famous Cleveland Public Theatre, The Capital Theatre and the soon-to-be completed Near West Theatre.

After finishing a Gay Games assignment on Cleveland's west side for the News-Herald on Aug. 7, I finally had the chance to visit Gordon Square and Gypsy Beans. Since then, I've made two other trips to the coffee shop and arts district with my boyfriend, and blog editor, Matt, (Thankfully this blog is not-for-profit; otherwise I'd be accused of nepotism.) Aug. 30, and my friend Shauna, Aug. 22. (She's the cute girl in the photo. She graduated with me at Kent State University and now lives in Lakewood.)

Location: Gordon Square is very much the economic engine to the greater Detroit Shoreway neighborhood--just like how Waterloo Arts District is North Collinwood's economic development engine on the east side. Of course, Gordon Square is a couple years ahead of Waterloo as far revitalization goes.

This bar stool area is perfect for up-close people watching.
Of all of the Cleveland neighborhoods I've visited, Gordon Square is possibly the most attractive I've seen. It charmed Matt, so much so he's considering it as a potential place to relocate come winter.

It's not terribly congested with commuters, it has quick access to Route 2 and downtown, The housing is affordable and it has a nearby beach, Edgewater Park. In addition, the Gordan Square area has a wide array of eateries and shops, bike lanes, and is public transit-friendly. It's an wholly livable neighborhood without being a tourist hotspot like East 4th Street, Ohio City, Tremont, Little Italy or University Circle. If I actually worked in Cleveland, I would consider living in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood myself. Instead, I am strongly encouraging Matt to move there.

Matt was pretty impressed with the neighborhood when we visited Gordon Square that Saturday, and I think a portion of that goes to Gyspy Beans. Just like the neighborhood, the coffee shop reflects the neighborhood's eclecticism. It's easily accessible by walkers and drivers.

One thing to be aware of, iced-coffees come in only one
size. I am not sure how I feel about that.
Food and Beverage: I usually don't talk about the taste of anything in this blog because taste is subjective and there are more important things to talk about like whether the coffee shop has exposed brick walls or organic toilet paper. I have to make an exception with Gypsy Beans. This place has the most moist and sweet muffins I have ever tasted. I mean ever, and I am a big muffin man.  Like, I almost studied muffins in college. On my Aug. 22 visit, I ordered an iced coffee, which only comes in one size, and a chocolate-chip muffin for $5 and change. It was so good, I encouraged Shauna to order a cranberry muffin when she arrived a couple hours later. I ate most of that muffin. On the latest trip, I even persuaded Matt to order a muffin. (He says manipulated.) He put up a strong protest at first, citing the troubles against consuming too many carbs and sweets. (He's a diabetic who can be really sensitive about it to the point of being pious.  "Besides," he said, "If I'm going to consume sugar, I would like it through a cocktail or beer, not a pastry.")  He eventually felt guilty and sheepishly looked up from his ipad, and whispered, "Simey, we can get a muffin if you really want one."  I shrieked with glee and we decided upon apple cinnamon.  Matt agrees, it was the best muffin ever, despite his not being a muffin man.  

I have to say, if I lived in Gordon Square, I would probably have self-control issues.

Love the paint, love the art, love the exposed ventilation. 
Nevertheless, a room is never perfect without exposed brick.
Space and Atmosphere: It might not have exposed brick, but Gypsy Beans definitely knows how to decorate a coffee shop. Mixed in with its wooden tables, furniture and floor is a beautiful bar stool space against its window toward Detroit Avenue. Beneath the glass-layered bar counter are pictures and maps of Paris and it's Catholic-rich history. Although we didn't sit there, the bar stool area was definitely a coffee-shop highlight for Shauna.

But what sticks out most at Gypsy Beans--and Matt agrees--is the locally-inspired art hanging around the coffee shop's walls. These mammoth-sized pieces aren't just merely pictures of Cleveland's historic architecture, they display the different epochs of Cleveland's development, ranging from the earlier Gothic to the postmodern glass and steel high rises.   I don't know much about art, but I think it generates a similar emotion that all of the abandoned-mall porn gives, offering glimpses of the grittiness and past struggles of Cleveland and its recent ascension. (Speaking of which, I am surprised no coffee shop owner is framing pictures of abandoned-mall porn in their spaces.  Matt can't get enough of abandoned pornography.  Stay tuned for the Dr. Phil intervention...)

Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via email--shusted@news-herald.com--or on Twitter at @SimonSaysNH.

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