by Abby White
The cafe is adjacent to the Thistle Farms headquarters on Charlotte Pike, which houses the organization’s offices, its bath and body care manufacturing facility, paper-making and sewing studios, and retail outlet.
Thistle Farms founder Becca Stevens addressed the crowd, which packed every inch of the bright, light-filled space, as they enjoyed coffee from Just Love Coffee, Possitifitea tea, and samples of the fare offered at the cafe, including vegan and gluten-free bakery items from Vegan Vee and sandwiches and salads from Arnold Myint’s AM@FM. The full menu has yet to be announced, but the cafe will offer a variety of tea and coffee drinks, including French press and Chemex pour-over options.
“The theme is a story in every cup,” Stevens said. “A story of what redemption and healing looks like … for every single person in here. We can always come together and love each other.”
The cafe will be run and staffed by residents and graduates of Magdalene, the residential program of Thistle Farms, which offers housing, food, therapy, education and job training for women recovering from prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. Stevens introduced these “pioneers,” and thanked the many volunteers, donors and supporters who made the dream of the cafe a reality.
“People have given enormously to this project,” Stevens said. “We want to honor and thank the five women who are the pioneers and the new hires for the Thistle Stop Café.”
Stevens also thanked Mayor Karl Dean and the city of Nashville for supporting the project. Before cutting the purple ribbon with the cafe staff, Dean praised the program offered by Magdalene/Thistle Farms, and the many women who have graduated from the program.
“We need to build a city where the doors are open to everybody,” Dean said. “To people who are new to this country, who are young with new ideas and people who are struggling.
“To the graduates and clients here, you made a big decision to improve and change your lives. As a city, were all really proud of you. We know that change takes strength courage and support.”
The cafe’s cheerful, comfortable atmosphere is enhanced by a 150-year-old California pinewood floor made from Al Gore’s tobacco barn in Carthage, Tenn., chandeliers by James Worsham, handmade counters by inmates at the Turney Correctional Facility and an outside deck built by Peace Corps volunteers. More than 800 teacups were collected from around the world, part of a yearlong project to collect cups and stories.
The Thistle Stop Café is located at 5128 Charlotte Pike and is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.