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A space for everyone: Communal Cafe opens in Nevada City

A pair of drinks from Communal Cafe in Nevada City — at left, a butterfly lemonade, and an Earth matcha, get the finishing touches before being handed off to customers.
Photo: Elias Funez

When you already have your foot in the door to use a communal kitchen and the plans change, you adapt and make it work out for the best.

At least, that is what Jade Benetatos and Thalia Pharris did.

The two were set up to share a kitchen at what was Fable Coffee’s Nevada City location when the cafe, at 233 Broad St., closed.

To make lemonade out of lemons — literally — the duo decided to take over the space and create their own community space serving coffee, food, and eventually beer and wine.

“We already had four feet in the door,” said Pharris.

A pair of customers enjoy the space inside the new Communal Cafe, which features many different colorful pieces of artwork by painter Adam Shaw.
Photo: Elias Funez

The process of opening the cafe went quickly, relatively speaking.

Pharris said, “We moved quickly. The space was set up in a way that it was pretty easy to convert and it was already a coffee shop, so we kind of just wanted to get it reopened quickly.

“The community definitely needed somewhere to gather and drink coffee and start the day, so we thought we better do this fast.”

Benetatos and Pharris are committed to providing a menu of locally farm raised produce and food, and to highlighting the many talents that community members possess.

Even the tables in the eatery are made by local woodworking company Ghostown Woodworks, and many are available for sale, if people like what they see.

Customers can also pick up a bouquet from local flower resource Bluebird Farm while enjoying teas from Anna’s Teas and coffee from Remedy Supply Company. The space is decorated with art by Adam Shaw, as well as plants from Nevada City’s The Sunroom.

Orders are served to customers during the second day of business earlier this week at Communal Cafe in Nevada City.
Photo: Elias Funez

One of the specialties of the house is the Butterfly Lemonade, each glass prepared with lemons to order, topped with a bit of simple syrup and Blue Pea Butterfly tea, topped with edible flowers.


They are admittedly still getting their feet on the ground — their first official day open was Monday — but will soon offer eats that honor their backgrounds.

“My father is Greek and Thalia’s father is Greek so we are doing a nod to the Greek dads,” said Benetatos, “and having a very fresh California/Mediterranean spin on food. “

The plan for Communal Cafe is to phase into lunch, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. In what they guess will be about a month, they’ll then phase into hot lunch, made to order.

Additionally, happy hour will go from 3 to 7 p.m.

“We’ll do tapas, charcuterie, a local cheese board, and hot Greek casseroles,” said Benetatos, emphasizing that everything is made in-house. She wants people to feel good about what they ate when they leave their Communal experience.

Jade Benetatos, right, and Thalia Pharris are the duo behind the opening of the new Communal Cafe at 233 Broad St. in Nevada City.
Photo: Elias Funez

“The food menu is specifically local and farm direct, so we are really talking about well-sourced food and making sure we have those intimate relationships with those farmers,” she added.

Benetatos should know — for three years she ran the Grass Valley Farmers Market.

Pharris, for her part, is the creator of Liquid Gold Juicery and has been in the juice industry since 2012. Her beverages are, of course, available in Communal Cafe.

Said Benetatos: “I want people to know we are really paying attention to sourcing and having quality ingredients and we are committed to having a community space that’s for everyone. And we are interested to know what they want and we want to know: What can we do for you?”

Customers are served earlier this week at Communal Cafe in Nevada City.
Photo: Elias Funez

Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at jnobles@theunion.com


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